Excerpt From EDEN’S WAKE

A wall of water was now visible at the far end of the canyon, traveling at an incredible rate of speed toward Ben, Eve, and Eleazor. Ben turned to glimpse a second wall of water coming from the opposite direction.

That’s impossible, He thought, we just came that way. Ben seized Eve and pushed her upward.

“Take hold of the tree branch,” he yelled over the now thundering sound of the water. Eve complied and then Ben jumped, grasping the lower branch and pulling himself into the tree beside Eve.

Ben looked down and noticed Eleazor still playing with his toes, oblivious to the events unfolding around him. As Ben and Eve climbed higher in the tree attempting to reach the upper edge of the canyon, the two waves collided on the pair.

Something akin to being squished between two bricks dislodged both Ben and Eve from their tree top perch. The water covered the canyon floor and Eleazor was nowhere to be found.

Ben and Eve had held fast to each other’s hand until a large fast-moving object missed Eve but kissed the back of her head. The near miss caused the couple to lose their grip and Eve to be sucked under water in the objects wake. Ben dove and freed his wife from the dying turbulence. He grabbed her around the waist and headed upward.

As Ben struggled to reach the life-giving air, he glanced back at the retreating object. Big and orange were the only sight his brain would allow him to process.

Ben burst through the surface of the water inhaling air between coughs and sputters. Turning his attention to Eve, he found she was groggy and sported a respectable knot on the back of her head. Ben struggled in the torrent of water to keep Eve from slipping away. He had become so turned around he didn’t know which direction he was moving. Was he advancing deeper into the canyon or retreating whence he came.

A large jet of bubbles surrounded them. As they subsided, Eleazor broke the surface and bobbed up and down in the water.

“Bennie boys!” he exclaimed. “And Evies, too! Me back! What you two is doin?”

Ben opened his mouth to speak, but a wave stifled his response, prompting a coughing fit.

Eve broke from Ben’s grasp. As her head dropped beneath the surface, the cool water partially revived her.

To keep from losing his wife, Ben clutched her floating brunette locks; any remaining grogginess cleared. Eve came to the surface with a shout, her hand searching for purchase. As she found Ben’s collar, he pulled her close.

“Good to see you,” she sputtered.

“Ben smiled. “Why didn’t you tell me you couldn’t swim?”

If looks could kill, Ben thought.

            “Just trying to backstroke in a shipping lane before I mentioned my lack of prowess in the water.” That’s when Eve noticed the bouncing orange gargoyle. “I see Li’l Abner is still with us,” she said, her voice taking on more than a hint of disgust.

“Hi, Evies!” Eleazor exclaimed. “Me back, too!”

Eve smiled and nodded. Her eyes fixated on Ben, asking, What now?

Ben stared back, but before his answer became clear, they began to spin.

“What’s happening?” Eve asked.

“We is spinny-spin-spin!” Eleazor replied. “Let’s go faster! We need more faster!”

His request did not go unanswered as their speed doubled.

“I’m not sure, Eve,” Ben said, ignoring the bobbing orange monstrosity.

Eve held Ben in a death-grip. He watched as Eleazor swam unhindered amidst the churn.

“It’s a whirlpool!” Ben exclaimed.

The spinning water increased in speed until three heads disappeared at the bottom of the vortex.

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Excerpt From DEADLY REIGN

Rustling, and then uneven stomps, could be heard inside moving closer. All became silent before something slammed into the door.

Orac and Eve both jerked back at the sudden noise. Even Pete, behind them on the sleigh, raised his head before lowering it again.

The door opened, stopping just wide enough for a grizzled old woman to step into the opening. She wore brown unlaced work boots, scuffed and cracked with age. Scrawny unshaven legs rose out of the boots into a faded plaid mid-length skirt, tied at the waist with a length of rope. “What in the name of Jeezy Pete is you two a doin’ out here?”

Eve opened her mouth to speak and was immediately cut short.

“Keep it to yerself,” the old women squawked. “Don’t make no never mind to me anyhow.”

A moth-eaten sweater covered a gingham blouse that clung to her from months of not bathing. Bony fingers held a long-stem pipe. Three brown teeth could be counted as she drew heavily on whatever substance burned in the pipe’s bowl. “I never thunked I’d a seen it, but sure nuff I guess it’s here.” Her leathery face seemed to pull her features deep into her skull. Black eyes glared from their sockets and a floppy weather-worn cotton hat sat atop her head. She looked around Eve and noticed Pete huddled on the sleigh. “Dadburn it all to pieces,” she said, grinding her pipe between her gums. She turned around and pushed her fist through a wooden wall behind her. Splinters and dust flew in all directions. “I done and fetched up the wrong count again. They’s three of ‘um and one of ‘um is a illn’ and sittn’ out in the snow. Lookie here ya old buzzard, have ya ever seen such a sight?”

The door opened, revealing an old man, more than a foot taller than his female counterpart. He was barefoot, errant nails twisting several inches from his toes, his hairless legs disappearing at the lower calf into a tattered night shirt. He held a funnel, similar to a miniature gramophone, to his ear. A scraggly gray beard cascaded halfway down his chest.

“Look,” Eve said, nudging Orac, “there’s something moving in his beard.”

Orac focused on the beard and soon could see small brown vermin darting in and out of the hairy foliage. His face was old and drawn with a long pointed nose, no discernible teeth, and a pipe jutting from his near lipless mouth.

“What in tarnation you goin’ on about, ya old bat?” he yowled. She elbowed him in the ribs.

“I know yer deef,” she replied, “but ‘er ya blind, too, ya ol’ coot?”

He grabbed his side and began to cough up huge balls of phlegm, depositing them on the threshold of the door. Ignoring the old man’s distress, she addressed the two and Orac.

“Taint a fit night out fer man nary a demon,” she said. “You three git yerself up and in here now! They’s things out here you wouldn’t wanna run into in the daylight, much less on a nite like this here nite.”

Orac scooped up Pete and followed the old woman into the house. They had to step around the old man, still hacking in the doorway. They made their way down a long, dimly lit hall. The scampering and scratching of small unseen beings were evident from the sounds behind the walls.

Eve tensed. I wonder which side of the wall they’re on? She imagined long scaled insects with fangs dripping with venom and mangy rats two feet long jumping onto her shoulders while the bugs invaded her hair.

The trip through the hallway seemed to take forever. Eve entered into a large living area, avoiding the onset of hyperventilation that was overtaking her. She wiped the beads of sweat from her forehead.

“How is Pete doing?” Eve asked Orac.

“With his injuries, it will be a long journey; however, I have no doubt his recovery will be complete.”

Two beds lined one wall and a small dinette with five chairs sat in front of a stone fireplace with a flat rock top. A wooden cabinet, pushed tight to the side of the fireplace, with three shelves and no doors, became a makeshift cupboard. Cut into the stone directly beside the firebox itself was a rectangular-shaped hole which served as an oven. An unidentifiable hunk of meat crackled over the open flame and the enticing smell washed over them.

“We gettin’ ready to sup,” the old woman said.  “If ya wanna mouthful, then take a seat, if ya don’t, then suit yerself.” She yelled back up the hallway, “Er ya comin’, ya lazy sack a’ nuthin? Fixins is gettin’ cold and I aint apt to warm ‘em back up fer ya.”

A garbled “Aye” filtered up the hallway. The old woman walked up to Orac and tapped him in the chest with her pipe. “You can make a pallet for that there sickun on the floor in the corner at the foot a’ that first bed. You be a’findin’ blankets on the shelf just above that very same corner.”

She turned to baste the meat on the fire.

Turning back around, she squinted her eyes and pointed a bony finger in Orac’s direction. “Mind you, you don’t put him on my bed. I don’t take kindly to strangers lyin’ where I lie.”

As the old woman tended to the meal, Eve took a moment to survey her surroundings. The floor and walls were made of the same faded wooden planks. Beneath the ancient thatched roof, rafters branched out like an oak rib cage. A multitude of diverse insects could be seen scampering in and out of the thatch. They occasionally rained down on the floor and made a mad dash for the nearest crack or corner in which to disappear.

On top of the sizzling flat stone of the fireplace, the old woman ladled an unknown gruel from a large pot into two smaller bowls.

The old man sauntered into the room, still coughing, having recovered from his partner’s jab in the ribs.

“Best get to cuttin else we’ll be here all night,” the old woman said.

He began to strop a large butcher knife against a piece of leather hanging from the wall. “I’m a thinkin you might a busted a couple ribs with that elbow a yern,” he complained.

“If’n I did, you deserve every one of um.”

He cut several large chunks of the roasted meat, placed them on a wooden serving platter, and joined the old woman at the table.

After several mouthfuls, the old woman wiped her chin with her sleeve and glared at Eve, Pete and Orac.

“I ain’t ‘yo momma and I ‘don teld ya once that if ya wanna eat, then eat.” She swallowed another mouthful. “An best be quick about it, cuz once I clean up this here mess, ain’t nobody eatin’ till ‘morrow mornin’.” She motioned with her fork towards the fireplace, “Now git to it!”

Eve and Orac locked eyes, uncertain what to do next. Their lull soon brought an answer.

“I ain’t gon tell you nary nuther time,” the old woman screamed. She stood, and grabbing one of the empty plates, slung it at the two surprised visitors. Orac caught the plate before it could smash against the wall.

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If a Sleep Deprived Blogger Fell Asleep While Writing a Blog on Sleep Deprivation, Would that Give the Sleeping Blogger an Edge on Blogging While Sleep Deprived?

Have you ever attempted to write a blog post and had absolutely no idea what to say? Hence, the first sentence. Even now I’m killing virtual paper space searching for something coherent to offer my readers. In actuality, I think they call this writer’s block, although I don’t believe that to be the case. I’ve never suffered from the aforementioned writer’s block. I have run through short spells when my mind refuses to focus on the task at hand. In this case, I’m trying to discover what the task may be or else succumb to examining the inside of my eyelids…well, whattaya know, a short ten-minute power nap kinda shakes up the cobwebs in my cranium and allows me to hopefully make this post a bit more meaningful. Of course, as I read over what I have written, it seems to make more sense simply because it’s something we all face at one time or another. I know when I’m working on a novel I try to write my character into a corner, much like a painter painting a floor would paint himself into a corner with no doors or windows through which to flee. I find if I write my character into this type of corner with no visible means of escape, once I pull him from the jaws of certain demise I have used my strongest writing to do so…hey, I may have just snatched this post from the chops of defeat.

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Musings of a Starving Author

When I started writing it was strictly short stories. I’ve never been one for patience, so getting to the end of the story as soon as possible was a plus, if not a necessity. I was certain a novel was out of reach for someone of my temperament. Then little by little the slightest clue of what possibly may be considered the smallest hint of a notion began to appear deep within the recesses of the small toe on my left foot. After awhile…and I mean awhile, I began to actually believe that I might consider penning a novel. In order to make a short story long, I wrote that novel, found a publisher and that’s when it hit me…I can write a novel, but why stop there. So I listened to myself and wrote a second, followed by a third and then a fourth. I now have number five and six in the works, hopefully, to be published in the near future. I thoroughly enjoy writing. It gives me an outlet to express myself and also a place just to have fun.

If you’re an author you know how to play the game. Get a book published, then ask everyone you know and their brother to leave a review, not to mention your entire family, including great aunt Gertrude who you haven’t seen for thirty years if she’s still alive. Then after years of marketing, you begin to receive unsolicited reviews. There’s nothing better than receiving five-star reviews from total strangers. It reinforces that you made the right career choice after all. What could be better? You walk into your bedroom, open your top dresser drawer and remove a very small document. Then it hits you like a ton of bricks as you stare at your last royalty check, realizing if you wrap the rectangular piece of paper around a rock at least you’d have a paper weight. You close your dresser drawer, leave your room, extinguishing the light as you do so, thinking how glad you are that being an author is not your sole source of income. Good night, Stephen King, wherever you are!    

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Excerpt from TERMINAL CORE

Clay’s expression changed to one of surprise and pain. He raised his hand. In the center of his palm was a quarter inch hole. A drill bit could not have made a cleaner cut. The culprit, a slashworm, had exited on the backside of Clay’s hand and wasted no time working its way up his arm.

“Ah,” Clay groaned, “there’s more than one.” He pulled his right pant leg up in time to see a parasite exit his calf muscle.

“What are they?” Jake screamed. A worm entered his shoulder just above the clavicle connection. Both men writhed on the ground in pain. The soil seemed to move as thousands of the slashworms vied for a free meal.

Before long, Clay and Jake would be consumed alive.

A lightening-like patterned grid of positively charged ions danced a few inches above the ground. It covered a region a quarter square mile, turning the area into a stunning pyrotechnic show.

In the middle of this square, lay two human figures. Both were in fetal positions, swatting at their necks and faces. The constant hum emanating from the charged grid came to an end along with the light display.

A comical scene played out as the men continued to slap themselves. Then, realizing the slashworms had ceased their attack, they stopped their flailing and sat up.

A short, slender man, barefoot and dressed in overalls walked up on Clay and Jake.

“Well, now,” he said, through a scraggly mustache and beard, “‘pears like you two went and sat down amongst some mighty nasty critters.”

“Yeah, I guess it would appear that way,” Clay said. He brushed dirt and debris from his clothes and examined himself for slashworm damage. Strangely enough, there was no pain associated with his wounds.

“I’m-a guessin’ you two is fair the well stupid to be sittin’ down in a slashworm nest.” He pushed a strange looking pistol into a wide holster hanging from his side. The pistol was attached to a double cylinder backpack, by way of a flexible metal hose. At the top of each cylindrical tank set a cone that ended in a dull point. An electrical charge danced between the tips of the two cones.

“Reckon it’s a good thing I were out and about.”He stuck his finger in his right ear and dug around, pulling out a large brown lump and wiping it on his overalls.

“Yes, sir, dang good thing fer real I jest happened along.”

“You . . . you killed those filthy bloodsuckers?” Jake exclaimed.

“Oh no,” the little old man said, “I didn’t kill’ em, I jest ran’ em back in the ground fer a spell.”

Clay and Jake stood, continuing to brush themselves off.

The small man extended his hand.

“Names Taggert Lee.” He shook Clay’s and Jake’s hands. “My friends call me Gert. Being you two fellers ain’t what I’d exactly term as mean, I reckon it’ll be fittin fer you to call me jest that.”

Both men acknowledged Gert’s gesture of friendship, and in the spirit of camaraderie offered their first names to be used by Gert.

“Now, I ain’t sure if you two knows it or not, but them there nasty little buggers that was a gnawin on ya is hardheaded little fellers. They ain’t ones to back down from an easy meal.”

Clay along with Jake looked at Gert and then at each other, not understanding what the little man was trying to say.

Gert shook his head. “Some peoples can be so dense that it jest ain’t proper. Looky here, you two.” He hocked up a big ball of phlegm and spat it on the ground, in front of Clay’s boot. A single slashworm pushed through the soil and sucked the phlegm ball down.

Clay and Jake were mesmerized watching the parasite, push through the Earth, devour the organic Jell-O and disappear.

“Is you two stupid or is ya tryin to get et up?”

The two men broke from their reverie and jumped. They landed beside Gert as the ground boiled with thousands of slashworms in search of the meal they had tasted moments earlier.

“I guess stupid would fit best,” Clay said.

“No argument there,” Jake echoed.

The sky had been growing light for some time now. The uniqueness of this hemisphere included dual suns that never fully set. So there was always light even if just a small amount.

“You two dummies gets not a argment from me neither.”

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Excerpt from TERMINAL CORE

Twenty-three

AS SURPRISED AS POPS WAS, he didn’t show it. He had seen transfers before, but this was the first one that had almost dropped on his head.

Quincy,” Pops repeated. “Can’t say as I recollect anybody named Quincy.”

“He’s the marshal in these parts,” the stranger said.

Pops saw the man slide a small blue object into his pants pocket.

“Now I remember. I met the marshal once; didn’t know his name was Quincy though. Anyway, you’re about thirty miles off target.”He paused, waiting for the newcomer to react; when he didn’t, Pops continued to speak. “Like I said, you’re about thirty miles off. He’s north of here in a town called Baine.”

“North you say?”

“Yep.” Pops took a moment to evaluate the stranger. “Gotta name, friend?”

“Lynch,” was all he said.

“Don’t talk much, do you?”

“Ain’t got much to say, leastwise not to you.”

“Friendly too, I see.”

“I’ll be leaving now, wouldn’t have an ellack I could borrow, would ya?”

“Afraid not, only got the one.” It’s against my better judgment, he thought, but being as I’ve never been accused of using judgment good or otherwise. “Why don’t you stick around, have some coffee and I’ll take a look at that chin of yours.”

“I guess I can do that, a cup of joe would hit the spot.”

Pops and Jake’s quarters were modest. Two bunks, a small kitchenette and work stations to monitor inflow and output. The kitchenette boasted a small table with four chairs.

Lynch took a seat while Pops blew the dust out of two cups, put the coffee on to perk and located the first aid kit.

Lynch didn’t budge as Pops cleaned the wound with alcohol wipes. Once he had worked his way through the blood and hair, he found the gash in the gaunt man’s chin. He looked through the first aid kit and found what he was looking for. Unscrewing the top from the small tube, he squeezed the two ends of the wound together, and ran a line of adhesive down the length of the laceration.

Lynch moved his mouth to speak.

“No,” Pops ordered. “No talking till this sets up.”He held the wound together and counted to sixty, then released his fingers. “You’re good to go. That glue will last long enough for your wound to heal and is stronger than your own skin.”

“Much obliged,” Lynch said, rubbing at the newly closed gash. The coffee pot signaled its doneness by bubbling up into the glass knob on top.

Pops poured two cups. “I take mine black, how about you?”

“Black’s fine.” Lynch accepted the cup.

The men sat enjoying their beverage.

Lynch spoke first.

“Sorry ’bout my gruff attitude earlier.”

“Nothing to worry about. A new place will do that to you, especially when you planned to end up somewhere else.”

Lynch couldn’t tell his benefactor he was in fact exactly where he wanted to be. This one fact weighed heavy on his mind, but no matter—when you have a job to do, you can’t afford thoughts like these to get in the way.

“So,” Pops said, “what brings you to these parts?”

Lynch took a sip of his coffee and pursed his lips.

Pops’ eyes grew wide, the laser blade having split him from groin to sternum.

Lynch stood and retracted the four foot long beam of light. He shoved the handle into his front pocket and then placed a hand on the older man’s shoulder.

Pops continued to stare in disbelief. “Why?”

“Nothing personal, just business.” He held Pops’ shoulder and eased him down until his cheek lay touching the table.

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If a stubborn obstetrician collided with an obstinate statistician, would you consider this situation awkward or just a mild coalition?

Have you ever been in an awkward situation? If your answer is no, then you’re either telling a fib nine miles long or you really were born this morning. Me, I tend to live in an awkward situation. How so, you ask? Being a writer, I purposely send different characters traveling in so many different directions I can’t keep up with the various scenarios. Adding to this is my subconscious tendency to interject small bits of myself into each character I conceive.

Now I’d like to illustrate a real life example of what might be an awkward situation. The youth minister from the church I attend came by to help me out today. I believe we may have seen each other once, but other than that…there is no ‘other than that’; we didn’t know each other from Adam. There were no introductions, no rapport; just “hello, I’m me”,  followed by “hello me, I’m me.” I showed him a few of the ropes, we sat down, began to work, and the awkward situation I feared turned out not to be awkward at all. I guess if you want to avoid situations of an awkward nature…well then, I’m afraid I can’t help you.

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