The 2016 Election

I think the only thing I need to say about the election is that ~50% of the eligible voting population chose to stay home. Democracy cannot exist if the people within it do not exercise their power over it.

Launch Sequence – Chapter 5

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5

*

FIVE

“Granite Base, this is Alpha-1. Launch Sequence stand-by.”

“Roger Alpha-1. Begin activation sequence.”

I listened to the comm chatter from Launch Control and the pilots while my goggles displayed vast amounts of information. The engine bay information window was bordered in red that turned to yellow as the Icarus’ power plant ramped up for blast-off. There were only two weapons pods, both defensive in nature, though I wondered how effective they would be should we pop out of the mountain only to find a thousand Kai warships waiting for us. I cycled through the acceleration creches, finding my parents’ two rows down from me, both a healthy green.

“Admiral Shaw, we’re cleared for launch,” the pilot’s voice said over the comm. Captain Jun was a female according to the display data next to her name, but she sounded like the gruffest, toughest Marine my brain could imagine.

“Roger that,” my father replied in a tight voice. “Let’s light ‘em up and get the hell off this rock ASAP.”

I turned my attention back to the engineering window. The fusion reactors had been steady at five percent until a few minutes ago when they began to slowly climb into the thirty percent range. I watched, holding my breath involuntarily, as the numbers inched into the low forties, then suddenly ramped up to ninety before leveling off and continuing their journey to one hundred. I expected the ship to vibrate or hum just like in all the movies, but I felt and heard nothing. I wasn’t sure if the gel in my creche was dampening any sensations. I could still hear the muffled noises of the last few sailors climbing into their own creches after securing the rest of the passengers. Continue reading

Launch Sequence – Chapter 4

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5

*

FOUR

Mom and Dad talked for a while, though not before sending me off to a corner of the room to read. I had finally calmed down enough to begin once again daydreaming of the strange, shiny ship being prepped a dozen meters down the corridor from me. I felt ashamed that I had cried like a baby, but my mother forced me to admit I’d sneaked enough looks at the holos on the Wire to have a terrifying grasp of what the Kai did to their enemies.

Both Mom and Dad admitted to being just as frightened. When I asked how come they didn’t seem scared, my dad looked away when my mom said they had both done their share of crying over the last few years and didn’t have much—if any—tears left in them. The thought of crying so much that I couldn’t cry ever again scared me almost as much as what I’d seen the Kai do to our colonies. The only thing more terrifying, according to Dad, was how once the Wire went dead, truly awful things happened.

There were rumors the aliens harvested humans for food, used them in disturbing genetic experiments, even dissolving every living person in giant vats of acid. The tales that made me shiver were the ones describing how the Kai set everyone on fire.

I’d burned myself with a nanosolder tool when I was eight. It took almost a month for the wound to completely heal, and hurt even with the pain blockers the doctor prescribed. I shivered again at the thought of that kind of pain all over my body. Continue reading

Launch Sequence – Chapter 3

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5

*

THREE

I tried to raise a single eyebrow again, as this was certainly different than any of the True Responsibilities I’d imagined.

“Hey, good one!” he said with a laugh, and it even made my mom chuckle. “You almost got it.” He changed back to Serious Dad. “Denny, you don’t pay much attention to the news, do you?”

“Not really,” I answered.

Adult news was usually boring unless it had footage from one of the colony worlds under attack, or an important space battle (but those were typically labeled “disasters”). Mom never let me watch any of those news stories, and had done her best to firewall my comm so I couldn’t pull grisly details (and pictures or video) from the Wire. I knew why she didn’t want me to watch them, at least I thought I did, and it had to do with her own experiences in combat.

Mostly, the news always sounded like a bunch of voices all talking at once. Today in blah blah blah, this bad thing happened, a lot more bad stuff happened, here’s the weather and then sports. I did my best to tune it out, but because of my accelerated schooling, thanks to both of my parents being officers in the military, I knew a lot more than most of my peers about what was happening in the galaxy.

I didn’t seek out the news that most adults paid attention to, but I didn’t ignore it either. A lot of the stuff going on around the galaxy made no sense to me for a long time, but I’d learned a lot of “context” (a concept I still struggled with) which made connections between people, places, and events easier to understand. Ever since I found out about Mom and what happened to her at Janus, I paid more attention than ever to any news that entered the small bubble of my world. Continue reading

Launch Sequence – Chapter 2

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5

*

TWO

The elevator opened up into a cavern so large I couldn’t see the far wall. Part of what was blocking my view of the other wall was a starship. I didn’t know how I could know that based on the limited section of it that I could see, but inside, I knew. There was an army of men and women in white lab coats scurrying around the ship like ants around their queen. I looked up toward the ceiling, but there didn’t seem to be one. The walls rose straight up until the darkness swallowed everything. The ship didn’t look like any ship I had ever seen before. It wasn’t that it was so alien that I couldn’t have imagined it, but it was just so… different.

I loved science fiction, both books and movies, though I hadn’t been allowed to see any of the scarier adult versions. I thought I had an idea of what every ship ever conceived of would or could look like. This one didn’t resemble a rocket, the old NASA space shuttles, nor even the Terran Navy’s almost uncountable variations in ships. It didn’t look like any of the Kai ships I had seen on the news and in documentaries.

As I walked along the new yellow line in the floor that began to glow once we stepped out of the elevator, I tried to figure out where the cockpit was, where the engines were, where the airlock for letting crew members in and out could possibly be on the massive vessel before me. The ship looked like a giant, slightly flattened egg with a polished silver outer hull that returned weird images of us as we walked by it. The reflective surface made me think of a funhouse mirror in the way that it distorted every shape it captured. Twice as we continued toward wherever Mom and the yellow line led us, I noticed that some of the reflections would simply wink out, almost as if we had become vampires for a few seconds. Continue reading

Launch Sequence I – Chapter 1

“Launch Sequence I” is the first story from “Genesis-6,” the (much more uplifting!) sequel to “End of the Line.”

 

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5

*

ONE

My mother held my hand so tight it began to hurt. She gave me a soothing look, but I could see the fear in her eyes. I didn’t really understand what was happening, but I knew all of the adults were scared. The thunderous booms that filtered down through the underground complex resonated regularly. Every thump caused Mom to jump a little, and each time she would squeeze my hand even tighter.

“Mom, you’re hurting me,” I said after another powerful explosion made the world around us vibrate.

“I’m sorry, honey,” she replied, relaxing her grip, then giving me a quick hug while holding a small smile on her face for a few seconds. “I’m just nervous.”

Another boom, this time louder than any previous, rumbled down the walls. I could hear other children crying, whimpering in the line all around us, along with the voices of parents doing their best to soothe them. Just like my mother was doing for me. I wondered again if I was dreaming.

—|—

A week ago, I was playing in the park, beating my friends at video games, and practicing with my school’s basketball team. At twelve years old, I didn’t pay much attention to the adult things like the news unless my father left the tablet screen open to the cartoons, though some of the cartoons made no sense. Chancellor Ryley was a woman who looked almost like my mother, and I didn’t understand why some cartoons showed her as a donkey, or why the aliens we were at war with were stuffing apple pies into her exaggeratedly large mouth.

Sometimes I liked to read the sports section. Earth was two hundred light years away, but they had all of the best sports leagues, as some sports couldn’t be played on colony worlds if the gravity or atmosphere wasn’t right. Once in a while my own name was in the local sports section, along with those of my teammates. Sometimes we got our pictures in the news as well. My father printed a hardcopy of the time I made the news by scoring the winning basket in the championship game when I was eight.

It was a distraction from the hushed whispering—sometimes even shouting and shoving—the adults did over what was happening in the Coalition. All of us kids were told not to worry about any of that, only to focus on the next game, the next day, the next homework assignment. It was easy for me, though it made me uncomfortable around certain adults, as they sometimes forgot to stop worrying and focus on the next game, day, or work assignment. Continue reading

Echo Chambers

I’m down to 30-ish friends. The rest have been unfriended for being racists, homophobes, rape apologist dude-bros, nasty little misogynists, idiots who claim the Civil War wasn’t about slavery and the Confederate flag isn’t a symbol of hate and division, and/or Trump supporters.

It’s refreshing to have a FB timeline that isn’t full of nutty nutter bullshit from privileged white persons (mostly males) and the pretzel-defying contortions they fold themselves into to deny all facts while pointing “but look over there!”

However, putting ourselves in an echo chamber is actually not that great of an idea. To only surround ourselves with those who think almost identically to ourselves while shunning all others who have opposite views creates an extremely polarized society. Hence, our current predicament.

I try hard to argue with myself about this, and I can’t help but feel somewhat annoyed by my consistent swing back to “but these people simply live in a fantasy world.” I contort myself into the same pretzel-defying logic that others do just to try and find myself at fault, for being no better than they are for refusing to even listen to them anymore.

It sucks. A lot of people I grew up with are now outside of my echo chamber. A lot of people I really liked and/or respected are now persons of suspect intelligence, moral views, and what I fear are ideologies based on tainted propaganda designed specifically to separate those who are susceptible to such incredulous beliefs even though factual evidence is literally beating them over the head.

But, at the end of each torture session, I still cannot accept the friendship or sincerity of anyone who believes whites are superior to all other races (insert various twisting and pretzeling about why blacks commit crimes, do drugs, have 17 babies, you know the drill).
Continue reading

“It’s Harder This Way” – Chapter 1: Onward and Forward

1. Onward and Forward

“Mr. Greggs, sir?” Spider asked, skidding to a halt in front of me.

“Spider,” I said, trying not to laugh at his name, “just call me Evan.”

“Evan, sir,” he said, fumbling the words. I could tell that it was hard for him to keep the Mister title from slipping out. “There’s an army scout coming up the road.” He looked behind as if the scout had been stalking him, then back to me. I nodded for him to go on. “He’s coming to you and Mist… Tony.”

“Okay,” I said, glancing over at Tony Galliardi. He shrugged. “Make sure he finds his way to us, and make sure no one says anything. Go.”

We watched him run back down the road, an all-out sprint at first, then after a sheepish look back at us, he smoothed out into a jog. I picked up my pack, shouldered it, waited for Tony to do the same, then began walking south again along the Willamette Highway.

“Who do you think taught him manners like that?” Tony asked as we put one foot in front of the other.

“No clue,” I said with a chuckle. “Is he a Farm kid, or from one of the outer reaches?”

“He’s one of the Davis kids. From up on the northeast edge.”

“Huh,” I said, trying to place the family to the location. “I don’t remember them. Seems like a good kid.”

“Let’s just hope he doesn’t fall on his knife while trying to slice an apple.” Continue reading

“It’s Harder This Way” rough draft finished!

I know a lot of readers have been waiting for 4+ years for the sequel to “It’s Better This Way.” Well, you’re in luck (maybe, depends on if you hate it or not haha). I’ve just finished the rough draft and first major edit of the sequel.

It’s right at 30,000 words, but that’s just the first book. There’s at least 3-5 more 30k word novellas left. Normally I hate serials but I know readers are probably impatient so I’ll release each chunk as soon as I’m done with it. Plus, it will spur me to keep writing until the whole story is done. Hopefully 😉

“Transfer” finished!

Holy…! “Transfer” is 100% done (131,150 words / 400 pages) and only needs a good proofreader to catch any remaining errors. I think I’m going to enter it into the Kindle Scout program just to see what happens 😉