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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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I’m ba-ack!!

You never really know how much you miss something until it’s taken away. I was recently hospitalized for three weeks, the majority of which was spent in the ICU. Things were moving so quickly I didn’t have time to consider much of anything. Finally, the day came I was released. I required an additional two weeks of physical therapy and rest to begin my recuperation. Those days staring at my computer were nearly unbearable, knowing I couldn’t work. I was jones’ing to write. I had left some of my characters in such precarious positions that they must be wondering what happened to me. Well sufficed to say, by the grace of God, I’m on my way to recovery and back to writing. You’ll be happy to hear that all my characters made it out alive (except the ones I had destined to experience an untimely demise). Once again, all is right with the universe. Oh. . . and if I haven’t mentioned it before: It’s great to be back !

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Excerpt from Eden’s Wake

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.

            Belac nodded.

             “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.

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Back in the Saddle

Hello All!

I thought I would try something different, so I spent the last 3 weeks in the hospital in the ICU. After an additional week of recovery, I decided I didn’t much care for the situation I found myself,  so I came home. Another week of recovery and I’m ready to resume my blog, spewing humor and off the wall commentary on writing and anything else that presents itself as suitable fodder.

It’s great to be back.

Lynn

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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!

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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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No Unicorns, No Unicorns; My Kingdom for an Extreme Lack of Unicorns

The topic of my blog post this week is something I swore I would never do, if for no other reason than I loathe the subject matter. My favorite genres when I write are science fiction, fantasy, and action adventure. When it comes to fantasy I avoid kings, queens, knights, castles, dragons, damsels in distress and unicorns with extreme prejudice!

Well, it looks like the old saying rings true once again, never say never. And I mean never ever say never because you can bet it will return to chomp unmercifully upon your major gluteus muscles, as just happened to me. I made the mistake of asking a female (my newly acquired daughter) her opinion on the theme of my next blog. “Unicorns,” she said. So here is my offering, even though it manifested into a negative presentation. I’m forming a fact-finding blue ribbon commission to study the feasibility  of changing the unicorn name to “Unihorn.” Of course, we could always replace the horn with an ear of corn and keep the name as is. Think about it and just imagine –  we’d finally have something (though a bit ridiculous)  that actually makes sense.

If you’re wondering about “my newly acquired daughter”, that’s fodder for another blog, but the story is quite a sweet one.

Until next week, Happy Trails!

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