Launch Sequence – Chapter 2

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

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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

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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

Story Counter – updated 7/1/2016

Rough draft / editing status

Transfer – 100% / 100% edit (131,150 words / 400-ish pages)
The Big BhangPUBLISHED!
CountdownPUBLISHED!
Genesis-6:
1. Launch Sequence I – 100% rough draft / 0% edit (29,245 words)
2. Launch Sequence II – 45% rough draft / 0 edit (40,000 words est.)
3. Genesis-6 – 15% rough draft / 0% edit (unknown – 75,000 words est.?)
4. Killswitch – 65% rough draft / 0% edit (25,000 words est.)
5. Rebirth – 35% rough draft / 0% edit (25,000 words est.)
Extraction – 66% rough draft / 10% edit (125,000 words est.)
Razor’s Edge – 25% rough draft / 0% edit (60,000 words est.)
It’s Harder This Way – 100% rough draft / 25% edit (30,000 words)

(Eh… I’m on a bit of a terror at the moment and books are finally getting knocked out)
(and yes, that IS correct… “It’s Harder This Way” is the sequel to “It’s Better This Way” and it’s getting written right now. Should be done with the rough draft by the end of March. Full novel!)

Exchange Rate: 8-Jeff

Exchange Rate: 1-Jeff
Exchange Rate: 2-Allyson
Exchange Rate: 3-Jeff
Exchange Rate: 4-Allyson
Exchange Rate: 5-Jeff
Exchange Rate: 6-Jeff
Exchange Rate: 7-Allyson

8 – Jeff

+2

“Mr. Charles?” Becky asked. Jeff’s head jerked toward her. “Mr. Charles, Dr. Maser wishes to see you.”

“Thanks, Becky,” Jeff said, waving her off.

He’d been daydreaming. His concentration level was almost zero, and had been since he’d woken up after saving the girl’s life. Allyson’s life. For some reason, he felt drawn to her, as if some magnetic force kept trying to orient him toward her. It definitely wasn’t a sexual feeling, but it was somehow intimate. As if she’d left a piece of herself in him, and that piece had taken his body over and wouldn’t allow him to function as a normal human until reunited with her.

Jeff rose and grabbed his jacket, sliding his arms into it. He buttoned the front of it as he left his office and headed down the oak paneled hall to Dr. Theodore Walden Maser’s corner office. He stood outside, took a deep breath, then knocked on the door.

“Enter,” Dr. Maser’s muffled voice said.

Jeff opened the door and stepped in, closing it when Dr. Maser, Ted, he reminded himself now that he was a partner, waved at it. He stood between two chairs in front of Ted’s polished cherry desk. The older, graying man behind it waved again for him to sit down. Continue reading

Exchange Rate: 7-Allyson

Exchange Rate: 1-Jeff
Exchange Rate: 2-Allyson
Exchange Rate: 3-Jeff
Exchange Rate: 4-Allyson
Exchange Rate: 5-Jeff
Exchange Rate: 6-Jeff

7 – Allyson

“Full name?” Dr. Mahesh asked, her pen pressed to the sheet in the manila folder, eyes on Allyson.

“L’Tasha Allyson Mosley.”

“Age?”

“Fifteen.”

“Address?”

“1126 North Clark Circle in Borah.”

“L’Tasha, do you know why you are here?”

“It’s Allyson.”

“I’m sorry?”

“My name. It’s Allyson. No one here calls me L’Tasha.”

Dr. Mahesh frowned. “Why not?”

“Because it’s too black.”

“I see.” The doctor wrote notes on her intake sheet, glancing up every few seconds to gauge the teenage girl’s interest in what she was writing. Allyson stared ahead, but it wasn’t a glazed, fixed stare, the kind she’d seen too many times from patients who had threatened or attempted suicide.

Allyson finally looked over at the doctor behind the desk. “Do you?” she asked.

“Allyson, I’m an Indian doctor in southern Idaho. When I’m not at work, I wear a plain sari and receive odd and sometimes unpleasant stares from others. On special occasions, I wear a Paithani, a special, very colorful sari with little bits of cosmetic glass and beads. I imagine that even you would stare at such a sight.” Dr. Mahesh’s voice was soft, her accent very light, and her expression was one of genuine sympathy. “I’m too dark,” the doctor continued, looking down at her hand, “so I have a good idea of where that leaves you.” Continue reading

Exchange Rate: 6-Jeff

Exchange Rate: 1-Jeff
Exchange Rate: 2-Allyson
Exchange Rate: 3-Jeff
Exchange Rate: 4-Allyson
Exchange Rate: 5-Jeff
Exchange Rate: 6-Jeff

6 – Jeff

Jeff pulled the BMW into the garage, making sure he gave Karina’s Honda enough room to get the driver’s side door open. He shut the car off and punched the remote, barely hearing the garage door descend from within the silence his luxury sedan provided. Jeff tried to get his emotions under control, but his mind ran in a thousand directions at once. He felt as if he were spinning out of control and reached out to grab the steering wheel with both hands. When the world and his brain only slowed down a little, he gripped the steering wheel as hard as he could, his thoughts only slowing down long enough to marvel at how white his knuckles were.

The instant he felt a tear slide out of his left eye, he crashed, his emotions boiling over. Within seconds, Jefferson Taylor Charles was a complete wreck, his wracking sobs, snot, and tears making him feel as if he were having a seizure from an allergic reaction. A small part of his mind, the strange, darkly humorous part, let him know that he most certainly was having an allergic reaction. He’d never really wondered if he was allergic to attempted suicide, but the black humor that was rooted deep inside him assured him that he’d passed that allergy test with flying colors. And tears. And snot.

Jeff was so lost within his inner breakdown that he didn’t notice the door to laundry room open. Karina stood in the doorway staring at him. She thought at first he might be listening to an interesting story on the radio, even at one in the morning. They were both NPR junkies, and she’d had to deal with Jessica’s incessant complaints more than a few times after being forced to sit in the car for ten minutes longer than normal while a story on “All Things Considered” or “Fresh Air” wrapped up.

She took two steps into the garage, angry it had taken him another hour to get from The Rest to their home, less than six miles away. Her initial fear that something terrible had happened to him during the short drive home was quickly replaced by the typical annoyance that he’d most likely received a phone call and hadn’t paid attention to the time. For Jeff, for any lawyer (as she soon found out after talking with the spouses of Jeff’s co-workers), it was an unfortunate side effect of the job. Continue reading

The Big Bhang #4: Make Joints, Not War

The Big Bhang #1: The Master & The Streak
The Big Bhang #2: Global Legalization & The Human War Machine
The Big Bhang #3: The Lill & The Backstory of the Backstory

             4. Make Joints, Not War

Forjay sat in the lobby of the GlrgHlkd Hotel and Convention Center on Rialta-9, spreading his attention between watching the numerous strange aliens wander past him, and watching GANJA on his wrist comm. Galactic Al-Jazeera News and Journalism Association anchor Zarg Graxon, a Ji, which is a race of lizard-like bipeds, vaguely humanoid, except for the upper classes, who all have a third eye on a stalk protruding from the top of their heads, was relaying the latest galactic day’s news. The top story, for the four hundredth day in a row, was about how little time the upstart humans had left before being ground into raw elements by the combined might of the Galactic Union.

Humans, other than Forjay, of course, raged at their holo sets and flat screens and wrist comms at the news, with a number of them using the Federation internet to lodge complaints detailing how GANJA was nothing but an alien tool to spout propaganda to the masses about how awful humans were, and how they should be exterminated. Of course, like most humans, the majority of them refused to pay for premium cable or satellite, and watched the clips on the net. The clips, when not pure propaganda from xenophobic types that lived in trailer parks and on bubbles attached to asteroids, were generally badly subtitled from half-assed translations.

Continue reading

All Of My Books Are FREE today (May 10, 2014)

So, you know, if you want something awful to read, have at it:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00C9IVXH0

(I wouldn’t recommend it, though)

It’s Harder This Way – update

Right. So… apparently over the last few days, “It’s Better This Way” shot up from its normal rank of around #3000 in the Amazon free store and peaked at #96 (last I checked, anyway). I suppose a lot of you reading this might be here to find out what the hell I’ve been up to, and why, after an entire year, is there still no more to this story?

Imagine my surprise when someone alerted me to the fact this story started climbing up the rankings. Also imagine my dismay that this story, which has always done very well for almost the entire year it had been out, is suddenly shooting up the charts and I still don’t have a single word typed for a sequel or a prequel.

Yeah, I know, it says at the back of the book that I’ve been working on it. Imagine more of my dismay when I had to fix the Amazon version because I changed covers and forgot to credit the new cover artist, and read the end notes again.

I asked myself why I had yet to write another word in this universe, knowing that I could have written something, ANYTHING, and made a few bucks. Enough to finish painting the interior of our house (long story, don’t ask, fills me with rage to even think about it), or at least buy a new toilet (a scary story, and one that fills The Wife with rage, so let’s not talk about it either).

I realized the answer was that I haven’t written a single word yet because I just didn’t feel it in my heart. I DO love this story, and it will always be special to me because it was the first real story I ever published. And I do love the universe I set up. However, the few times I’ve actually tried to come up with more of this story, it has always felt forced, fake, as if my heart just wasn’t in it.

Continue reading

“Henchman” – Randy the Tech #1A

Right. This is part one of a two part chapter about Randy the Tech. This is still a bit rough, but hopefully not too rough. Don’t worry, all of these stories go through an editor before being published. I just like to give away pretty much every chapter for free now before actually publishing.

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Henchman – Author’s Note
Henchman – The Day Dave Subbed
Henchman – Randy the Tech #1A

Randy the Tech Tests Out A Mind Control Unit

 “Hey, dude,” Washington said to me from his side of the doorway.

I looked over at my co-worker, a huge, scary, pipe-hittin’ brother who towered over me by a good six inches, and could snap me in half as if I were dry spaghetti. He looked distressed, yet his voice was casual, calm. Maybe he looked distressed. When he gets all crazy, his eyes get real big, and it makes me begin to shake inside because I start getting little movies playing in my head that feature Washington on a rampage, picking me up, and literally pile-driving me through the concrete floor like we were in a cartoon. But he didn’t look like enraged Washington. He looked like he might have had an accident in his fatigues.

The fact that he sounded casual and called me “dude” made me possibly more frightened of him. Washington didn’t talk much, but when he did, it always seemed like he was a drill instructor and you were some lowly piece of shit new recruit that just caused the entire platoon to lose out on a three day weekend where they’d all planned to hit Tijuana for some female company. I’d never heard him say a single casual thing to anyone but the Vils, and that was maybe three times in the eight years I’d known him. All three times, he looked like he was strategizing just how quickly he could kill everyone in the room and escape.

Continue reading