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The Way To The Stars

Hello humans! I’m Noah Medlock, and I write Weird Fiction—that’s science fiction and fantasy with a taste of the macabre. I’m interested in decentring the genre, focusing on queer characters, and treating ‘soft’ sciences with hard-scifi rigour.

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I’m also putting up some short fiction here on the website, for free! Right now there’s a weird tale about the Horniman Museum…Have a look at my current work-in-progress here[it’s on its way, honest!]—it’s a sci-fi mystery with plenty of horror, both cosmic and personal. At its core, it’s the story of a young man being chewed up and spat out by academia. Along the way he discovers more about the ocean planet of Nacre than he had ever hoped to know. The question is, can he leave it behind when it starts destroying him?

The way to the stars is open. — Sergei Korolev

Thanks for checking out my shiny new website! It’s going to evolve a lot alongside me so do check back to see the changes. The best way to chat would be to follow me on twitter, where I’m @medlock_noah.

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The Accidental Gardener

Flash Fiction | Literary | 520 words

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Content warning: Mental Health, Depression.

He bought a new houseplant every time he had a bad day. The habit started innocuously enough—a general sense of helplessness led to him buy a hardy shrub. Another blue day made him acquire a fragrant lavender. Realising he ‘wasn’t quite coping’ led to the purchase of a cascade of English ivy. On his darkest day he bought a succulent—one thing he could never kill.

The poisonous days ripened into tangled weeks, and his houseplant habit truly took root. You couldn’t move in his apartment for terracotta pots, and watering his collection took up most of the morning. The girl on the cash desk at the garden centre came to recognise him. She looked forward to the days when the funny young man came to relieve them of an anaemic specimen. He turned up at her counter one day with a tall cheese plant, and she summoned up the courage to engage.

“How are we today sir?”

He answered truthfully: “I am buying a house plant.”

“Your house must be amazing—all leafy and green with all them plants what you buy!”

He smiled but didn’t answer. When he returned home he saw the tiny apartment for what it had become—a jungle of potted shrubs and bushes. There were orchids of every colour, herbs of every taste. Luscious ferns enjoyed the steamy heat of the bathroom. Cacti guarded his bookcase. The meagre rooms of his flat had been transformed day by day into a beautiful garden—a verdant paradise of sadness.

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Had these plants made him happier? He wasn’t sure. Self-care is different from therapy, although houseplants are good listeners. Now he had a herbaceous monument to his own melancholy, but what to do with it?

In a moment of wild clarity he grabbed his wallet and vaulted back down the stairs. He jogged the ten minutes to the garden centre and slammed his cash down at the till.

“Soil. Enough to fill a wheelbarrow. And I’ll take a wheelbarrow.”

The cashier was thrilled to see the usually-droopy gentleman buzzing like an excited insect. She gave him her staff discount on the bagged earth and waved him off, finding herself close to tears.

He squeaked home with his precious dirt and manoeuvred it all up the lift and into his living room. He ripped open a bag with his bare hands and emptied it on the floor. He wiped his sweating brow, smearing honest earth on his gleaming face. He covered the floor with the stuff, getting mulch all over his waistcoat and skinny jeans. Then he repotted the plants, one by one, thanking them for the memory they carried. The succulent, the ivy, the lavender—all went into the loam immediately below where their pots had been. He was releasing these living vessels of his sadness, not to rid himself of them, but to be truly accepting of each one. He unpotted the first hardy shrub he had ever bought and held its roots to his face. Planting it again in the very floor of his apartment, he curled up next to it, and fell asleep.

An Unnatural History

Short Story | Horror | 3,500 words

I wrote this story a few years ago around hallowe’en. It takes a critical look at the colonialist history and dodgy science of cherished British institutions.

I love the Horniman Museum and want to stress that I do not share all of the views presented in this short story! In real life the Horniman does a great job of decolonialising its exhibits. Check out their website here.

Content Warning for horror, suspense, and gore. The Horniman Museum is partly an ethnographical institution, and this story portrays a cavalier attitude to indigenous artefacts in order to critique that attitude.

When I first moved down to London, I did so fully expecting to find work at the Natural History Museum, South Kensington. Like many evolutionary biologists before me, that hallowed building sparked off an insatiable passion in my young self—a desire to totally comprehend the natural world and its mysteries. Unlike the Victorian scholars who set up that palace of learning, I have never carried the inclination to catalogue and quantify. My leaning was more towards a holistic understanding on Nature—an understanding that allows for unknown and un-knowable factors. I wanted—and still want—to grasp the essence and spirit of the savage wilds, not to tame them, but to revel in their spiritual freedom. Continue reading “An Unnatural History”