Tag Archives: Science fiction

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!

Sixty-seven

“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.

“It’s too─”

“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.

 

 

 

 

 

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Deadly Reign Excerpt

Parallel Dimension I

Fatal Confrontation

 

“State your purpose,” Orac demanded.

“I believe my purpose is known to all present,” Cahotic replied.

Caleb, Ben and Eve joined Pete and Orac.

“Mount up,” Caleb said, “and do not remove your eyes from them.”

Pete complied and climbed onto his horse.

“Prepare your weapons,” Caleb ordered.

“I need no other than these,” Orac stated, holding up his fists.

“Now, Caleb,” Cahotic chastised, “is that a proper welcome for old friends?”

“Orac,” Caleb said, motioning to the giant.

Orac backed up to meet Caleb. “Yes?” he said.

Caleb leaned over and whispered into Orac’s ear.

Orac smiled and then nodded, returning to his previous spot.

“Make ready,” Cahotic said, “and separate the necessary parts. We must renew our supply of gel.”

The riders pulled their swords and moved forward. The line was staggered in a stepped orientation, allowing each rider to shield the one behind. As the first aberration moved onto the snow-covered ice, an inaudible cracking ensued. Caleb sensed the ice give under the great weight, as the second rider followed his predecessor.

“Now, Orac,” Caleb ordered.

Orac bent over, slamming his mammoth fists into the ice. Cracks developed in the crust, spreading from the epicenter in spider-like fashion. Orac continued his barrage, crawling further onto the ice as he decimated the concrete water. He felt two points of pressure along his back. A small figure wrapped in fur vaulted from his flank and onto the rear of the first rider’s beast. He wielded a spear with a fine bronze tip attached to a smooth brown shaft. The newcomer plunged the spear with no ill effects, hitting pieces of armor and plated green scales. The first rider and his steed dipped to the left and then to the right. An ear-splitting crack echoed through the forest, and the rider sank. As the creatures continued their descent, the small figure jumped from the rider. With uncanny agility, the strange fur-covered form bounced along small chunks of ice, floating in the stream until he reached the bank. Astonishment enveloped The Three, uttering not a sound as they watched this acrobat.

The second rider attempted to turn and make it back to solid ground, reaching the bank as the ice collapsed beneath him. The animal sank to its midsection before it could gain a hold with its forelimbs, the aberration it bore slid off its back. Steam drifted upward from the pair as the water permeated their bodies.

“Orac!” Caleb yelled. “Enough.”

Orac ceased his assault and circled around to return to his comrades.

Caleb turned to Ben. “Gather wood for a fire,” he said.

“What about the . . . ?” Ben asked.

“Wood,” Caleb barked, “and quickly.”

Ben, Pete and Eve dropped from their horses as the ice gave way, plunging Orac into the frozen slush.

The first rider was now chest deep in the center of the stream. Huge bubbles from underneath exploded as the beast that bore him disintegrated. The rider himself silently melted into the stream, his head exploding in small puffs as if boiling in a cauldron.

The second rider’s mount, using its front claws, inched itself onto the bank. Its rider plunged his sword deep into the beast, allowing it to pull him along. The pair breached the water’s surface, both formless from the midsection down, their remaining torsos dissolving in a mass of tiny gurgling eruptions.

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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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An Excerpt From TERMINAL CORE

SAL RICKY HAD CLEARED the saloon wall by ten feet when Clay’s gun fired. The dual rounds flew true, making contact in the middle of his back. A bright light and a sonic boom of sorts ensued, splitting the creature in half. The two portions continued to run, slowing to a wobble and falling over sideways. No blood or fluid escaped the bifurcating wound as the molten copper rendered the cauterization complete.

Clay shook his head and picked himself up off the floor. A flood of pain shot from his right hand, up his arm, spidered through his shoulder and into his brain.

“Remind me not to do that again,” he said to himself, as he gingerly shook his hand hoping to relieve the widespread burning.

He made his way through the hole in the saloon wall (compliments of one decimated hydrak), and upon reaching the deceased creature, he nudged it with his boot.

“Now I’ve got to move two large pieces that are nothing but dead weight as opposed to one larger being that could move itself.” He removed his hat, lowered his head and shook it several times. After replacing his hat, he looked at the two dead halves.

“Why do they always have to choose the hard way?”

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Read, View, Old, New, Nobody Flies for Free.

4872912-9226306576-47674Are you into movies? If so, I’ll assume your favorite gems on the big screen bridge over into your preferred genre in the novels you read. With all the assorted subjects flying out of Hollywood and bookstores, you pretty much have your pick on what you read or view these days. As usual, the stories we enjoy begin with words and over time make their way onto the silver screen.

For some time now, the comic books we all read as kids are gaining popularity, not just in print, (today referred to as graphic novels) but in movie form, also. Marvel seems to have cornered the market with DC a ways behind. I personally don’t have a favorite, but enjoy them all. With the computer generated special effects of today, things can be brought to life through a process called, “Go Motion,” first used in Jurassic Park in 1993. For the first time, characters only in our imagination could be brought to life in a realistic manner. Gone were the days of stop motion animation and the jerky figures it produced.

I enjoy the comic book heroes brought to the big screen format as well as on my flat screen at home. Being a science fiction and fantasy writer, it brings a new dimension to the characters I create for my novels. And who knows?…Maybe one day I’ll see a novel I’ve penned on the silver screen. I just hope it’s not filmed as the old Godzilla movies were with men jumping around in suits. Who knows? Maybe claymation will make a comeback, and then I’ll have it made.

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“Deadly Reign,” 3rd Book in the “Rising Tide Series”

deadly-reign-cover Available Spring  2017   Pre-order:   http://christophermatthewspub.com/soul-fire-press/

Ben, Eve and Pete continue to push through this new Earth as the world sinks deeper into corruption. They gain new allies, including an intellectual animal equipped with the gift of speech. They are forced to battle six aberrations (beasts and riders) deemed nearly indestructible. The environment has manifested into a frigid terrain with the sun lost in the ice filled cloud cover. Swords forged especially for the riders by the riders offer another layer of defense to an already superior force. The humans have deduced that water may possibly be a weapon, but a weapon that even now is freezing at an accelerated rate.

 

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