Aon, a solid core planet made of pure caladium, is under silent attack. The planet’s center is the hardest and most valuable element in the galaxy. Rogue officials, led by President Gaylen and in turn directed by off-worlder’s, set an 80-year plan in motion to seize Aon’s core. Off-worlders work to dissolve the unbreakable core using crude oil obtained from 19th century Earth. Once the oil is refined the by-product, gasoline will soften the caladium, allowing it to be collected. The off-worlders employ a band of corrupt inhabitants to carry out this work. The caladium core consists of living beings–these indestructible creatures prepare to defend their domain against the elements harvest. Separate alliances unwittingly come together in the dead city of Baine with Clay gravitating to leader. Their objective; preserve the planet. Disregarding all else, the crude oil thieves continue to process the pilfered caladium. Those who desire to save Aon will, along their path, face the core creatures, avoid horrific aberration’s one step behind, and dodge deadly pitfalls ahead. Once Clay melds the coalition, a battle for life and world begin.
Tag Archives: Novel
What Could be Better than Writing Science Fiction? It’s like You’re Dr Frankenstein on Steroids. a Little Piece here, a Little Piece There, and What do you Have. . . ? That’s the Great Part. . . Only you Know!
“SPEED ‘EM UP, VICTOR,” Clive barked. “We’re barely keeping ahead of this thing.”
“Ha’yah!” Victor cried, accompanied by the crack of his whip. The wagon bolted forward, leaving the ominous hole behind for now.
“What in Bill’s bald head was that?” Carl questioned.
Clive looked at his comrades.
“The more pertinent question is how long can we out run it?”
“That’s impossible to tell,” Victor managed to communicate from the front of the buckboard.
As the wagon rounded a curve, Carl extended a finger and voiced an observation.
“Looks like we’ve kinda got a handle on that question of time you had earlier.”
A three foot high wall of stone stood across the entire width of the road. Any attempt to circumnavigate the obstacle meant an impossible forty-five degree climb to the right and a deadly forty-five degree plummet to the left.
“Victor,” Clive barked, “left turn now!”
Victor looked to the left and eyed his options. He turned to find Clive.
“Now!” Clive roared.
The buckboard veered off the road. They found that the steep embankment was a small part of the problem. Hidden beneath the waist high grasses were potholes, ruts and rocks, large enough to destroy an ellack-drawn wagon.
“When I get to the station,” Carl yelled, “somebody’s gonna get an earful.”
Clive nodded. “Give ’em one for me too,”
Clive and Carl sat on the floor of the buckboard with their backs plastered to the front of the wagon. Each man had one hand grasping the iron bar at the bottom of the driver’s seat and the other hand looped through the back of Victor’s belt. They wedged themselves in place by pressing their boots against the barrels in the back of the wagon.
“Thanks for the hand hold,” Victor said, knowing he wouldn’t be heard if he voiced it any louder. Even so, he felt the need to express the sentiment. He was doing nothing more than holding on himself. His boots were locked underneath a flat plate normally used for the driver and passenger to rest their feet on.
The ellacks bore the brunt of the punishment. The muscles in their rear pair of legs contracted, lifting them off the ground, allowing the second pair, ahead of the rear legs to carry the load. Enzymes in the animals’ muscles stiffened the second set of legs to near unbreakable, allowing the joints to remain movable.
Much of the animal’s weight would be shifted to the flanks, causing the front legs to tread lightly, sparing them irreparable damage. Once the crisis was over, the rear legs would relax and lower to the ground and the second pair would contract to the abdomen to heal.
“How much more of this can we take?” Carl shouted.
Clive took a deep breath. “The buckboard can’t last much longer and then we’re next.”
Victor strained to see thirty feet in front of him.
“What is that?” He craned his neck to see, and in an instant was rolling over top of it, “A ramp?” He held his breath until the wagon landed on flat ground. “And, man, am I glad it was there.”
The buckboard came to a slow rolling stop. Victor applied what remained of the parking brake. He dropped the reins, removed his hat and fanned his face.
“All passengers may disembark in an orderly fashion.”
“Just get me out of this death wagon,” Carl said, falling over the side before catching himself.
Clive jumped to the ground.
“Victor, I don’t know how you did it, but you did it good.”
Victor climbed down last, said nothing and made for the anomaly he knew he had seen.
Sixty feet from the buckboard’s final resting place, was a man-made depression. It was more than large enough to hold both ellacks and the wagon. The alarming part of this scenario was the rows of sharpened, six-inch thick wooden spears that lined the bottom of the depression, protruding up some four feet.
“Ya think someone might have it in for us?” Carl asked.
Victor nodded toward a curved structure.
“I think somebody’s doing a stellar job of looking out for us.”
The three men moved as close as they could to the mound of clay that saved their lives. It was placed to carry both vehicle and occupants over the hazard and deposit them with minimal damage.
“Let’s check the buckboard,” Clive said, “then I think it best we get outta here.”
* * *
“How many barrels did we lose?” Clive asked.
Victor continued to drive, Clive rode shotgun, which left Carl to count. They were traveling at a slow, but steady pace. Carl could stand and make a quick count.
“I count seventeen. We started with twenty-four. Seven lost.”
“Not bad for what we’ve been through,” Victor said.
“I guess not,” Clive replied, “I can’t help wondering what’s next.”
“What do you mean next?” Victor asked.
This piqued Carl’s attention, and a third joined in the conversation. “Yeah, next doesn’t sound so good back here either.”
“In case you two haven’t noticed,” Clive said, “the closer we get to where we’re going, the more trouble we run into.” He ran a hand over his stubbly face. “It’s making a fella feel like he ain’t welcome in these parts.”
“I hear ya,” Victor said.
“Where are we going?” Carl asked.
“Whoa,” Victor said. He turned around and looked at Carl . . . “Right here.”
“Where is here?” Carl asked. “I don’t see anything but dirt and rocks.”
Clive hopped down from his perch.
“That’s a very astute observation,” he said to Carl, “Let me see if I can shed a little more light on the situation for you.”
Clive walked up to a rock formation the size of a three bedroom house. He pushed his hand into a small depression that no one save for Victor would have noticed. Clive removed his hand, then turned and smiled. A muffled click then a steady hum signaled movement.
“What the . . .” Carl mumbled, as a panel slid back into the rock, leaving an open doorway.
“After you,” Clive said.
Victor slipped in; to him this was home. Carl stumbled through slowly; his head moving up one side, across the top, then down the other.
A short walk down a dim hallway opened into a single round room with a dome ceiling. A large pipeline entered from the east wall, continued through the building, and exited out the west wall. Three quarters of the pipe were covered with a square shroud that reached the floor. Three steps led to a small elevated control center.
“So, close your mouth and tell me what you think,” Clive said. He adjusted several switches on the wall, bringing up the lights and adjusting the temperature down a few degrees.
Carl lowered his head from gawking at the ceiling and looked at Clive.
“I want you to tell me what all this is. Quincy mentioned his involvement in an operation, but indicated nothing like this.”
Victor had climbed the stairs and was working at the power console.
“What this amounts to,” Clive said, “is a big siphon. Crude oil extracted from Earth is pumped through this pipeline and into the storage facility at Baine.”
“I’ve seen nothing in Baine that would show any liquids other than liquor and urine,” Carl said.
Clive chuckled, “The other Baine.”
“I’ll let you finish before I bring that up again.”
“Good enough. As I was saying, the oil is pumped through this pipeline. The covered area you see is a miniature refinery, in part, at least. As the crude travels through this area, forty percent of one of its components, called gasoline, is extracted and pumped into an underground storage tank beneath our feet. The liquid is extremely flammable and volatile if confined without a means of pressure relief.”
“All that stuff is fine, well and good, so let’s talk about the old city of Baine.” Carl tipped his hat back and placed both hands on his hips. “From what I’ve gathered, and I believe these to be reliable sources, that place is just as lethal now as it was when people occupied its hallowed halls. And feel free to ignore the hallowed halls reference.”
“Calm down,” Clive said, “what you’ve heard has brought about the exact response it was intended to. That way people would stay away from the old Baine, allowing us to work unabated by sightseers and crooks alike.”
“Hey, boss man,” Victor said, “we’ve got a problem. When we first arrived, our underground tanks were topped off. Since then, we’ve lost a third of our product out of tanks one and two, and it looks like tank three is gone.”
“You mean empty?”
“No, I mean gone.”
A barely perceptible groan could be felt.
“Now what?” Victor said.
“Well, I guess you got your answer,” Carl said.
Clive looked at him. “Allow me to refresh your memory and I quote, ‘I can’t help wondering what’s next.”
The floor buckled, the slight groan now a full-fledged symphony of twisting tanks, floor plates and girders being ripped in two.
“I believe that’s our signal,” Clive yelled over the ear splitting chaos.
Three men exited the doorway as the faux building collapsed. Loading once again into the buckboard, they relived a scene that had played out hours earlier and would play out again.
Belac, Ben, Eve, Pete and three of Belac’s men took turns lowering into the cave through the hole used to steal the Andor. Seven others remained above to trace the same path that the ones below would traverse.
Belac handed each of his men two wooden branches and kept two for himself to use as torches. Once they were lit, he spoke.
“You must remember the Andor is not to be touched. It must be carried by the poles inserted through the rings on each side. This is also the same for the Shadow Ones. If they touch the Andor they will cease to be.”
As the group moved deeper into the cave, they struck the ceiling with a long wooden rod. The men above would place an ear to the ground to follow them as they progressed.
“We will halt for a moment,” Belac said. “The torches are growing dim and we must replenish the fuel supply.” He opened a bag and pulled several strips of cloths smeared with a black substance that smelled of petroleum. He wrapped the cloth around his torch. At once, the fire light increased. He did the same for the three of his comrades and then the group continued on.
“Will the torches help us against the Shadow Ones in the caves as we search for the Andor?” Ben asked.
“In a minor way,” Belac replied, “if your skill is such that you are able to touch them with the flame.”
“Is this the reason we have the torches instead of using the night vision instilled within us?” Ben asked.
“We will rely on both.”
The group continued deeper into the underground lair. As they traveled through the tunnel it divided, heading in different directions leaving a menagerie of catacombs. They came to a halt with no clear direction to search.
Belac pulled more of the strips from his bag and wrapped the torches increasing the light throughout the immediate area.
“Gather the group closer together,” Belac ordered. “We must intensify the light into a single component, to battle our enemy.”
Several shadow creatures danced in and out of the groups vision as they moved closer and then further away from the firelight. As they did so, the torch bearers would swing their burning weapons in unison, causing portions of the creatures to disappear and forcing them to back away.
The group moved with intent following the retreating creatures, all the while developing an insight of where their quarry lay.
“I sense we are growing closer,” Belac said, extending his hand to stop Ben, Eve, and Pete’s progress.
Belac’s three men took the lead, their torchlight fading. Volton, who traveled ahead of the rest, left the ground without warning. Amar reacted, thrusting his torch into the shadow creature holding his friend. The flame startled the creature, causing the spot it touched on its dark form to disappear; however, the gesture came too late as Volton slammed into the ceiling hard enough to shatter his spine and flatten the back of his head. He fell to the ground with a sickening thud that left him twitching as his involuntary nervous system protested one final time.
“Everyone back!” Belac bellowed.
To Write or Not to Write. Whether Tis Nobler to Suffer the Slings and Arrows of Outrageous . . . . oops! Wrong Soliloquy
I thought I’d take a moment to relay the circumstances which led me to become a writer. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis November 2006. Two months later, January 2007, the position I held as a trade show construction supervisor and warehouse manager was abolished after sixteen years. During our winter fishing trip to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, my son suggested I give writing a shot. I began to pen my old standard, ‘short stories,’ while still employed, uncertain if I had a novel within. A story line soon emerged pulling me into the world of “Rising Tide.” With my first novel reaching completion, I decided to delve into the world of self-employment, opening a single employee (me) drafting business (CAD).
It’s now the spring of 2008. I find a publisher to take on my novel which becomes a reality in the spring of 2009. My drafting business is going gangbusters. I’m having to put in 14 hours a day 6 days a week.
July 2008 rolls around, and guess what . . .the economy tanks, my business nearly beating it down the toilet, and I’m up to my armpits in edits and re-writes, which ain’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it proves that one out of two (here’s that word again) ain’t bad.
Fast forward to today. I recently released my fourth novel, “Deadly Reign.” I have two more books in the works. The next in the “Rising Tide” series and a stand-alone novel that revives a character from a previous book used in a cameo role and now as the protagonist. I’ve just scratched the surface in the world of authorism. So I certainly don’t feel qualified to offer any spectacular, over the top, fail proof words of wisdom. If I were to offer any advice, I’d simply say: Never give up, expect rejection, don’t take yourself too seriously, and most importantly, have fun. God bless!
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.