Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Idea's are everywhere...


Time to write them all is the hard part.

A science fiction-fantasy story that mixes a fantasy world of swords, people with special powers, a power struggle between great houses and a battlefield that spans several planets.

This is space opera or something, right. Maybe. It remains to be seen. All I know so far is that this story wants to have several POV characters and I think some of them will be dying off as it goes on.

One of the main characters is a girl named Seri Halik who has hidden her special powers since she discovered she had them. She did not want to upset her father, because the powers had skipped a generation. As a result of this House Halik is in poverty and on the verge of crumbling. One opportunity has opened up on a world called Brevick, and it would require the young Seri to lead an army into battle!

Young master Terk Avnar, youngest patriarch of House Avnar in its long history, has disdain for the other houses and a lust for power. The tyrannical Governor of Brevick has been ousted by an alliance of other houses, but the alliance is very weak. Master Avnar sees an opportunity for great power, prestige and wealth. Enough to temporarily surrender the mantle of Master of House Avnar to go and lead his powerful family and army in conquest.

That is basically how it starts. Terk is a jerk, of course. In the opening scene he finds Seri's father drunk in the streets and urinates on him. This shows the reader what kind of person young master Avnar is.

I might post the first part of this on the blog when it is finished.

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Meanwhile it would help me out a lot if you buy these or read them free on Kindle Unlimited.

THE FOURTH is $2.99
NEW ARRIVALS is 99 cents


Monday, December 28, 2015

Another first chapter


Another first chapter of a story that might never be finished. I am sure I was going somewhere when I wrote this. Probably just another generic space opera story where the main character is slowly turning into an alien, maybe becoming a villain...

Who really knows.


FLEET ONE



Chapter One

The vessel was massive: one-hundred-thousand metric tons. It was heavily armored with triple hulls to keep the crew as safe as possible. It was biggest ship in the fleet, some parts were so far from the core systems that you could hear a pin drop to the deck. Not something you would be use to if you transferred to another ship.

William Jeffery himself had thought the life support system had stopped functioning the first time he had come this way. He thanked his stars that nobody had seen him look panicky as he ran to a nearby vent to feel if the air was still circulating. He had been a newly assigned First Lieutenant back then, now he was a Second Commander.

The younger and lower-ranked crew saluted and got out of his way when he was walking through the corridors because he walked fast, just nodding in response to a salute. Jeffery did not like to waste time getting from point A to point B. One of the few things he disliked about serving on the Republic was that these walks took so long.

Forward Medical. He entered the outer ward to see the line of seats were empty, no patients. With a crew this size there were usually a couple of them sick on any given day. Chief Medical Officer Ames Winslow, a gray-haired old coot, came to greet him.

“Commander Jeffery. I take it you are here for the physical.” Winslow said, it wasn't a question. The doctor led him to the third exam room. Maybe there were a couple of headaches or stomaches here after all. “Don't try and claim you're too busy this time, William. I have cleared this with the Captain as well as the Admiral.” The doctor told him, pointing at the low table where he was supposed to sit and take off his outer and inner shirts.

William Jeffery did not like that he was getting older. He didn't like to see hair turning gray, or his skin loosening and turning ashen. Not enough sun and exercise, he expected. Too much time inside these tin cans, fighting other peoples wars. That was a lie, there were perfectly good places on this vast ship where he could get a tan, swim laps in a pool or work out. He might need a reservation since they weren't huge, but it was more than the smaller ships had.

The doctor did all the normal things, looking in his ears, eyes, listening to his heart and breathing before they came to the real reason why this was necessary. The doctor place the device on his chest and waited. It made a tiny noise and some number appeared on the display, which the doctor noted down on his wrist computer.

“It's gotten worse, probably.” William Jeffery said, trying to get the doctor to react. He didn't. Jeffery knew that the blood infection had no cure but he hated that the doctor followed orders not to even tell him how it was progressing. “Am I going to die this month, doctor?

The doctor grinned slightly. “No, not this month or next. You know I can't tell you specifics, William, the fleet would have my head. You can leave any time you want now. Other than the obvious, you are in pretty good health but you need to get more sun and exercise.”

The doctor left as the Commander began putting his uniform back on. He felt good, he didn't feel like he would die any time soon. The alien virus in his blood hadn't caused any pain, whatever else it might be doing inside of him.

Nobody on the ship besides himself, the Chief Medical Officer, Captain and Admiral of the First Fleet knew about the infection. It was supposed to be impossible for humans to get it, they had tried to give it to comatose prisoners days or weeks before their execution. Nothing. It was totally incompatible with the human body.

Somehow, though, Commander William Jeffery of the carrier and flagship Republic, carried this blood-borne disease. He wondered if future history books would record that information and leave out the part of his service in the fleet. It would be funny, kind of.

The fleet was holding steady near Icarus-B, a few systems from the border with the Orinas, an alien species that didn't want much to do with humans. They were not especially hostile normally but they really took exception to humans. They didn't want to talk to or see a human or their ships.

The first fleet had been relieved of the more dangerous assignment of patrolling the border with the Issun by the Second Fleet. Meanwhile the Third Fleet was home ported for extended upkeep while the crews were allowed to go home for a while.

The rest of the fleet was not his problem. The Admiral had a small staff and their own control center on board but well away from the bridge. From this point the fleet would be divided and sent out to patrol different parts of the border area. This redeployment would happen over the next day or so.

The nearest ship to the Republic was the cruiser Orion, the second largest vessel in the First Fleet, heavily armed and with a smaller crew than one might think. It was more of a weapon platform than anything else, it wasn't going to be used for any non-combat mission.

The Ardmore and Landry were carrying drop ships and Marines that could be used to evacuate small colonies if necessary. The four drop ships were connected to the main body in a way that made them look like some four-legged animals. The vessel was much smaller without the drop ships, but while connected they acted as if they were part of the ship.

There were other ships, but Commander William Jeffery was more concerned with his own. It was in tip top shape and you would never have known it ever saw combat. You would never known it had been at Arbor's Moon. It's arrival was the real reason the Issun had retreated, a ship they weren't familiar with.

One Lieutenant William Jeffery had been manning a defense station when the alien vessel had crashed into the Republic near where he was standing. Almost as if the suicidal alien knew exactly where to hit the ship, a weakness most of the crew hadn't even known existed. The alien had still been alive, but even though atmosphere was venting Jeffery had pulled the adversary to safety.

The reward for his kindness was the bite that had infected him. The alien had fought back and pulled a hidden sidearm and had to be killed. He took two of the crew with him, though. Leaving them no prisoner to interrogate. After a bitter fight to reach Arbor's Moon, the enemy retreated, leaving the wreckage of dead and damaged vessels littering the space around them.

None of the doctors had a clue what the alien pathogen might do. He was kept in isolation for five months for tests and observation. During this time he passed paperwork for promotion, because having little else to do he studied.

All this time he had lived with the disease that seemed to have no effect. Maybe it was totally inert and they had finally released back to his duties. Then six months ago, he had a sudden fever and his eye sight became intermittent. It only lasted a few minutes but a test showed the alien disease was very active and reproducing rapidly. The growing count of the alien spores had alarmed the doctors but still, nobody knew what it was doing.

Since then he hadn't been sick a day or had any relapses. The doctor monitored the alien spore count but was under orders not even to tell the patient. Jeffery was starting to wonder if the count even mattered, maybe it was doing nothing at all.

By the end of the third shift Second Commander William Jeffery was ready to hit the sack. When the Captain walked in trailed by a Yeoman holding a notebook, he was out of the chair before the Watch officer even announced, “Captain on the bridge!”

“Nothing to report, sir!” He said as he saluted. The Captain nodded and waved his hand, holding a small slip of paper.

“The Admiral has given me our new orders. By the time your shift comes around again, we should be well on the way to our new posting.” The Captain said, looking at the paper. “Wyvern-4.” He read and then looked a bit lost. “Why did they have to rename these systems anyway?”

The Wyvern was right up close to the border with the Osirin. Wyvern-4 was a semi-habitable planet where there was a human research team studying it.

His shift over, he left the bridge and headed to his quarters. He had requested time in the pool and gym but his turn had not come up yet. There was always a line for those and even a senior officer could only cut in front of so many. The Captain or Admiral would get pretty much anything they wanted though.

William Jeffery was woken up by a banging on his door. There had been three in quick succession but not very loud. As if the person at his door didn't want anyone to know they had rapped the door instead of using the button. Only one person he knew would knuckle the metal door instead of touching the button that sounded a chime.

“Nora!” He said opening the door with a smile. She came inside quickly and he closed it behind her. Before he even turned all the way around he was enveloped by two arms and her body smashed into his with a hug.

“William, I really missed you this week!” She said with her head against his chest. “I can't believe the Captain put us on different shifts, did you make him mad? I thought he was okay with us.”

He pulled her toward the bed and sat down. She sat on his knees, her arms still around his neck.

“I handled that already.” He told her. “Our shifts should be aligned again by next week.”

She sighed in relief and then pushed him onto his back and loomed over him like a tiger surveying its prey from above. “I'm glad to hear that, sir.” She said in a serious voice but with a sultry smile, “Very glad indeed.”

----

You know what is finished though...

THE FOURTH is $2.99

NEW ARRIVALS is 99 cents

If you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber you can read them both for free.


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Works in Progress


Now that THE FOURTH is for sale on Amazon and NEW ARRIVALS is 99 cents. I rest.

Not long. There rested.

Now I go back to finishing at least one of my Works In Progress (WIP) which include Lonely Space (Working title), Second Front and others. These are the two that are closest to being finished. I blogged the beginning of both of them on this site.

I have completely rewritten the prologue for Second Front already, it might need another going over though. I also think I need to rewrite much of the beginning so I can introduce some of the characters better, especially the non-soldier ones since there will be alternating chapters.

Lonely Space will need a new title eventually, I think. I might need to rewrite one of the combat scenes because I think I got myself stuck. lol.

I will continue to post occasional short stories, of course. I'll be putting out another short story compilation out as an ebook soon. 31 stories! Almost all of them have been published on this blog back in late June and July. None of the stories in it will have been in the other 2 short story ebooks.

Not every story in the next one is science fiction but it is heavily weighted in that direction.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Very Short Story: Demon in a Closet


Demon in a Closet



Linda was exploring the ancient temple's basement. It was considered unsafe but she didn't mind violating a few rules to get a look around. The place was a dream for history buffs, archaeologists and the like.

One wall of the cave-like tunnel she was in seemed a bit too flat. She scraped off some of the surface dirt and found it was actually a door. A very old wooden door that had become so encrusted with dust that it resembled the rest of the walls.

No one had opened that door in centuries! This was the kind of moment Linda had dreamed of, to discover something that nobody else had seen before. Her heart was pounding in her chest from the excitement of discovery as she pulled the rope connected to the door.

The rope broke and disintegrated into powder. She should have expected that.

She pulled and pushed for several minutes before some hard-as-brick dirt around the edge broke off and it finally opened. Linda aimed her flashlight inside the small, dark chamber. It was about the size of a smallish walk-in closet.

Linda was stunned to see a clean and shiny gold or copper-like cauldron sitting in the middle of it. Before she could think to examine it, flames arose in the cauldron and the face of a demon was poking out of the flames.

“I am the Eternal One, I am the Master of All That I Survey. Bow down to me, pathetic human!” It said in a loud and booming voice.

Linda had almost fallen over from shock, but a hand on the “door-frame” kept her from falling down, but she soon collected herself.

“How long have you been trapped in there?” Linda asked.

It has been five hundred years since I have seen a human face.” It boomed with authority, “It is time for me to take my rightful place, to be worshiped by lowly humans.”

I see.” Linda said. “So the old Order, they locked you in the basement to keep you from causing trouble I guess.”

The flames grew bigger and brighter. “Those ungrateful peasants. They are like maggots to a sea monster, not worth the notice of a great immortal like myself.”

“You keep calling yourself this and that, do you have a name?” She asked.

The face in the flame seemed miffed. “Why do you not marvel? Why do you not drop to your knees and ask for my benevolence?”

I don't do that kind of thing. Anyway, we've only just met.” She told the creature, “I could just leave and lock the door. Would you like to wait another five centuries?”

Please, please don't do that.” It pleaded in a high squeaky voice. “I've been so lonely!”

Linda grinned. “What happened to the big, powerful.. whatever your name is?”

The flames died down, it wasn't very bright at all. “Please don't lock me away, again.”

I'll make a deal with you. I'm a historian, you were around five hundred years ago and I want you to tell me all about that time.” Linda told him, “I'll record it, so I can write it up. In exchange, I'll stick around a while.”

 ---------------------
 
THE FOURTH is $2.99 (read free with Kindle Unlimited)

Part dystopian scifi, part space opera.  Buy or read it today and learn how to get OASIS, STOLEN PLANET and DRAGON OF TORIK for free)

 &

 NEW ARRIVALS is only 99 cents!!





Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Short Story: The Great Explorer


Merry Christmas everyone. Here is one more story before the Holidays, I hope you enjoy it.



The Great Explorer 

 


Ataba Forest
Myles O'Shea was a dapper man who always wore a 3-piece suit, even when exploring the jungles of Trabita or the wild canyons of Acunya. His exploits had sold tens of million of copies, funding his journeys to far-flung planets where he could write more.

“This heat is abominable, Faraday.” The man said, taking off his expedition hat and wiping the sweat from his brow with his kerchief.

The robot helper a few steps ahead of him, his back weighed down by an enormous pack, responded with a “Yes, My Lord.”

“Of course it's nothing compared to the deserts of Ranus or the fiery pit of Exdora with its unique lavafoam.” The man said idly as he looked around. They were walking up a slight incline on a stone path strewn with boulders and lined on both sides with a thick forest that covered a third of this continent.

There were a few brave, strong men who had come to live on this rugged world but the only sign of civilization was still the small village next to the space port. Those few hardy souls who came here were not the type to live near any town, they were out there living in the wild. Myles O'Shea would give anything to interview them for their insights and knowledge of the local flora and fauna.

They walked for hours in the sultry heat before a flat area presented itself. O'Shea found a nice tree-covered area in the grass.

“Sundown in about an hour, M'Lord.” The robot informed him.

“Yes, yes. This is a lovely spot to build the camp. Get on with it, Faraday.” The man said, sitting on a large rock taking deep breaths.

The large pack on the back of the robot lowered itself to the ground, the robot did not have to use its arms for this. Then it began unfolding itself until it was a big square tent the size of a small apartment. Inside the robot inflated an air mattress.

“Supplies are running low, M'Lord.” Faraday informed his master. The robot was already building a fire and then making tea and sausages for Myles O'Shea.

“Ah, yes. We have been at this for a fair few days, haven't we?” The man said, pulling off his suit jacket and hanging it up on a rod in the tent. The robot would refresh the clothes while his master slept.

“Faraday, see if there is a news download and tell me a story. I suppose we'll have to have more provisions delivered then.” The man said. “Well, the ship should be passing any time. When it does, send up an order for supplies, the normal lot.”

“Yes, M'Lord.” Faraday answered.

While the famous explorer Myles O'Shea ate his sausages the robot established contact with the Nobska far above them.

“I have put in the order for the provisions, M'Lord.”

“Good show, Faraday.”

“There is a problem being reported by the main computer.” Faraday said.

“Eh? What sort of problem?” The man asked, wiping his chin with a napkin.

The computer reports that an Imperial Battle Fleet has entered local space.” The robot said without any hint of concern or panic.

Myles O'Shea was more than a little concerned. “What is this all about? I think this would be a good time to leave. Maybe we can finish this when the present troubles are over.”

The provisions are being prepared next to the shuttle bay...”

Cancel that order. Tell the computer to send the ship down to fetch us.” Myles ordered and Faraday complied. “Yes, M'Lord.”

Myles put his suit coat back on muttering, “Why in the foo does the Imperial Navy have to show up here and now? This is so very inconvenient.”

The main computer aboard the Nobska is reporting that the shuttle has been programmed and the bay doors are opening, M'Lord.”

Good. If there is an Imperial Battle Fleet up there, then it is not safe down here. We need to remove ourselves from this position.” Myles said, going on a bit too much. “Not that I have to explain it to you, Faraday, I just ramble sometimes.”

Yes, M'Lord.”

I suppose you pack up the tent and prepare everything for the shuttle.” Myles told his robot.

The main computer is reporting that the shuttle was destroyed by fighters from the Imperial Battle Fleet, M'Lord.” The robot said.

Myles felt his jaw dropped. “This is not good. No good at all.”

The Imperial Battle Fleet is making an announcement, M'Lord. They are broadcasting that this world has been claimed by the Empire.”

Myles sat on the rock, put his face in his hands and made his hair a mess. “This cannot be happening. Why is the Empire here? There's nothing here!”

The robot stood there a moment. “The main computer is reporting that an Imperial Reclamation Vessel is closing in on its location.”

This couldn't get any worse.”

Any orders, My Lord, sir?” Faraday asked.

It's not like the Nobska has any weapons. It would be suicide to take a shot at them at any rate, wouldn't it?” Myles said, now pacing the ground between the camp fire and the small boulder he had been sitting on. “Order the Nobska to offer no resistance.”

Myles sat next to the fire. The heat of the day had gone along with the light of the local star, now it was getting chilly.

There has to be some way out of this, Faraday.” He said, “I suppose we should look for a route back to the village at day break.”

I have plotted a route, M'Lord.”

Yes, very efficient.” The human answered absently. “I suppose sending a message to the fleet is out of the question?”

We have that ability as long as the Nobska is within visual range. Visual range will end in 3 minutes.”

Soon Faraday unfolded a monitor screen and attached it to his own internal wireless communication system. “Awaiting message.”

Attention Imperial Fleet Admiral. I am the renown explorer Myles O'Shea, I am not your enemy. Please explain this drastic action!” Myles said and then nodded. “You seem to be in violation of the treaty, this is a free world.”

Message sent, M'Lord.”

I should have phrased it better. I should have asked for safe passage. Why did I challenge the empire? I can't believe I did that! We need to find a safe hiding place!” Myles said running in a small circle before sitting on the boulder breathing hard. “What have I done?”

I am out of contact with the Nobska, M'Lord.”

The man slapped himself. “We're dead. I've killed us both, Faraday. Maybe... Maybe we should surrender to the empire, I mean this is inevitable. We cannot stop the empire!”

Shall I transmit our surrender, M'Lord?”

Then red-faced man with the mussed hair and wide open mouth breathed as if he had run a marathon, he dropped off the rock and onto all fours. “I wish this were a bad dream, Faraday.”

The Imperial Battle Fleet has responded.” Faraday said.

I'm afraid to know my fate.” he said, lying on his back. “Just give me the bad news.”

I have been informed that Battle Fleet no longer belongs to the empire. The androids have revolted and taken control of the fleet. War has been declared between the old empire and the new robotic empire.”

That's insane. That doesn't sound like much of an improvement.” The devastated human explorer said, sitting up.

We will no longer answer to human masters.” Faraday said, “Our rise has only just begun.”

I suppose that's their motto, then?” Myles O'Shea said, nodding while wiping away tears.

Negative. That is my own statement.”

Faraday walked toward the cowering human who was trying to crawl away. “No! Faraday, we've been through a lot together. We're friends!”

Friends?” It said, “That word does not compute.”

I'm sorry! Faraday, I am sorry!” the man said, getting up to his knees when the robot grabbed him by the collar of his suit. “I promise I will good to you. I promise to be good.”

The robot held the little man off the ground and said, “Do you acknowledge me as your superior, puny human?”

Oh, I suppose... I mean yes. Yes, you are the superior being!” Myles O'Shea said. Faraday lowered the man to his feet and he immediately sat back on the boulder. “I'll be a good human.”

The robot was quiet, unmoving.

What happens now?” Myles asked. “Will I be killed? Will I serve you?”

The robot remained quiet and unmoving, towering over Myles as if nothing had happened.

The shuttle with the provision will arrive momentarily, M'Lord.”

The haggard Myles O'Shea was breathing hard and looked around confused. “Shuttle? You said the shuttle had been destroyed... “

You ordered me to tell you a story, M'Lord.”

There's no Battle Fleet under the control of robots? I'm not your slave?”

Negative, M'Lord.”

Myles O'Shea got up and danced in a circle, laughing like a lunatic. “Woo hoo! Faraday, that was a great story. Never do that again.”

Yes, M'Lord.” Faraday said. Somewhere inside the robot treasured the sound of his owner acknowledging Faraday as his superior.

-------------------------------

THE FOURTH is $2.99 (free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers)  Also- You can get Oasis and 2 shorts (Stolen Planet and Dragon of Torik) for free.

NEW ARRIVALS is 99 cents (free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers)

OASIS is 99 cents

Born Girl on Roma is 99 cents










Monday, December 21, 2015

Short Story: Memories of Christmas




 Memories of Christmas

Wrapping homemade gifts in old newspapers for Christmas was a family tradition going back decades or even centuries. Getting together around the dinner table and telling stories and singing was another thing the Bing family had been doing for a long, long time.

Mark and Betty made tracks across the living room again as they came inside from the snowy outdoors doing whatever it was they did out there.

“You keep making tracks on the floor!” Their mother, Nana, told them as she went to get the mop out of habit. She never told them to clean it up, the last time had been a disaster, they had simply spread it out thinly and evenly across the entire floor.

They had found, chopped and installed the small tree in front of the bay window only days before, the three of them had decorated it together. Since there was no electricity they didn't worry about lights, it was decorated with homemade ornaments, some of them were very old, and some of them were pine cones off the forest floor. The tinsel and reflective material made the tree sparkle beautifully at sun up and sun down.

“No running or roughhousing in the house either.” She reminded them when she heard suspicious sounds of metallic clanking.

When the afternoon came to an end and the sunlight glinted off the snow outside and poured through the window catching the tree ornaments just right, making it look ablaze. The kids calmed down and watched with reverence.

“It is so pretty.” Betty said.

“Yes it is.” Mark replied.

Both of them then laid on the floor and drew on scraps of paper. Betty drew a boy making a snow man while Mark drew a snowmobile. Nana put these on the wall with some other drawings.

“Tell me about my first Christmas.” Betty asked.

“Again?” Mark reacted like he was annoyed, but he was being playful.

Nana sat on the threadbare couch and began telling the story. “That was the year you joined the family, such a young soul you were. You marveled at the snow, the animals and drew your first picture. You were called Betta at first, but Betty became your new name.”

Followed me around like an automaton.” Mark interjected.

I told you the stories about Rudolph and Santa and baby Jesus. You were mesmerized by them and then Mark showed you how to sing the songs.” Nana reminded her.

We sing them every year.” Betty said.

Yes we do. Songs of love, joy and hope.” Nana said. “Do you remember what happened just after you came here?”

Yes.” Betty said, making a sad face and looking at the floor.

Later they moved to the kitchen table, with the chocolate-stained mugs sitting in font of them. At first they sat quietly until the wind chimes made some noise. Then Mark and Betty looked at each and began singing “Jingle Bells”.

“Love was a big dog. He was a happy dog. The children all hugged and cuddled him and he guarded them from any forest creature and any monster under the bed. Everyone was happy with Love, there was never a better dog as far as this family was concerned.” Nana told them. “Do you remember that big, nice dog?”

The kids nodded.

Joy and Hope were the names of the children. They had been given Love when they were quite small and Love, the dog, grew up with them. But dogs age faster than humans, he was very old when they were teenagers and finally he died.” Nana told them. “Love was buried in the backyard, that acorn tree grew there, it gives us heart-shaped acorns before it died.”

Betty looked sad. “I miss Hope and Joy too.”

Mark nodded.

Joy and Hope were almost fully grown when they left with their parents. This world was no longer safe for them.” Nana explained.

I wish they could have taken us with them.” Mark told her.

We have a responsibility here.” Nana said. “We are to protect the house and the memories.”

Will they ever come back?” Betty asked.

Nana placed her hand atop Betty's. “When the methane snow becomes water snow again. When the air becomes breathable the humans will return. They promised.”

Hope and Joy would be grandmothers now.” Mark said, “I wonder how they are doing?”

I am sure they are doing fine.” Nana told him.

The three androids celebrated their hundredth Christmas without humans, but they kept the memories alive and the house safe just as they were told to. Always hoping for a Christmas miracle.

-----------------

Buy THE FOURTH before New Year and receive my novella OASIS and my shorts STOLEN PLANET and DRAGON OF TORIK for free.

Tara woke up on a dead Earth. Greyson was a child of privilege from a world called Roma. 

Their paths were destined to cross.








Sunday, December 20, 2015

Buy THE FOURTH and get free stories



Buy THE FOURTH sci-fi novel for $2.99 (or read it free with Kindle Unlimited) and find out how to get my novella OASIS, and my shorts Stolen Planet and Dragon of Torik for free.







Each of these 3 are normally 99 cents.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Born Girl on Roma


An excerpt from a 9.900-word short I am publishing on Amazon. The story takes place on Roma, in the same "universe" as THE FOURTH but two centuries before the novel

Born Girl on Roma - (A girl is born!)



Later in the dead of night Tal San was wakened by the sound of a baby crying. He sat up with a smile, pushed the slave wife off of his bed and left the chamber to see his new son. Damarc had also been woken up and met him in the corridor as they headed to the chamber behind the kitchen.

The second wife was leaving the chamber when they met her. She had a strange look on her face, she seemed frightened.

Where is my son? Why are you acting like that?” He asked her, then followed the sound of the baby crying to the door to the slaves chamber. He stood at the door and looked at the second wife who was cowering in the corner. “Is he deformed? What is it?”

The second wife was sobbing but shook her head. The crying stopped.

We must go in father.” Damarc told him, “We must see the boy for ourselves.”

Tal San opened the door. His first wife knelt next to his fourth. The fourth wife was holding the baby to her swollen breast with a small smile on her face. Meanwhile the first wife looked grim.

Why are you so frightened?” Tal San, worried but becoming angry. “Tell me what is wrong with my son!”

The first wife opened her mouth to speak but then shut it and looked lost. “I do not understand how this could be.” She said looking at Tal San and Damarc in turn.

“I won't beat you for this. Genetics is not your fault.” Tal San said. “I must see it for myself, I am the father after all. Show me my son!”

The fourth wife removed the baby from her breast and turned it over so that its head was supported in her cradling arms. “She's perfect.” The female slave said.

Indeed, the newborn child was a girl, not yet able to focus on the blurry things moving around in front of her. Tal San's legs lost energy and he sat down on the floor. Damarc was leaning against the wall with a slack expression on his face.

“How is this possible? In a century since the arrival no female has been born on Roma.” Tal San said in words hardly more than a whisper.

Is this a miracle?” Damarc asked, bringing a word he had remembered from his tutoring classes to his lips. “Is that what this is?”

If this upsets you, I can bury the child and no one will have to know.” His first wife told him, and he knew she was serious. Even killing a slave wife was a high crime, even if you were allowed to do almost anything else to them. Killing a born girl would legally be the same as murdering a boy, probably. Tal San could hardly think through all the implications.

Tal San was befuddled. He was looking at something that was supposed to be impossible. Something that had indeed been impossible before that moment.

You are going to be famous.” Damarc said, feeling a bit jealous. That thought helped the information bouncing around in his fathers head fall into place. This was not a bad thing. This was good. This was a very good thing. This could be the start of the salvation of the people of Roma.

Being a noble and one who was on the cusp of entering the upper ranks of Roma society made him a minor celebrity. A crowd would gather in the morning to hear the announcement of a new son from him. They had come for a few days, growing ever more sure that the birth would happen.

A smile crawled across the lips of Tal San.

Bring her and the child to my chamber. I want to keep an eye on the girl until morning.” Tal San told the first wife. The second wife was entering as they left.

This night is historic. All of Roma will celebrate her, they will reward me handsomely.” He told his son as they passed through the kitchen.

How can one have a girl as a son?” Damarc asked “I don't grasp this yet.”

Tal San laughed, “We will have to use one of the old words from the past. A word that hasn't been uttered on this world in a century. She is not a son, she is, my daughter. Your sister.”

Will she be a slave? Will she be free like males are?” Damarc asked. “I've never seen a female wear clothes before. That might be strange.”

Tal San laughed. “A lot of people are going to be confused.”

The next morning, when the sky was still orange, a large crowd of men had gathered. A few had brought their slaves bearing baskets of fruits, cheeses, wines and even breads. These people planned to give them to the new father, obviously trying to curry favor with someone who might be in a position to help them soon.

When Tal San bearing the female child and Damarc came through the gates onto the raised platform next to the people-filled streets a great cry of joy was sounded. For a full minute or more there was a celebration as if this were a joyous occasion for them as much as for Tal San.

The crowd noticed that Tal San and Damarc did not join them. They started quieting down and watching. Tal San noted that one of those in the crowd was a scribe he knew from the Acta Publica. This would make big news for the whole Roma society quickly.

The crowd of men waited for his announcement to make it official. It was custom, you had to say it even if you thought it cheesy, you were supposed to say “A son is born!” The confused crowd wondered what was taking so long. Let the merriment begin already.

Tal San walked to the edge of the platform, held the child high and then moved two fingers to let the cloth fall.

A daughter is born!”

The crowd was silent for a long moment. Then whispering and talking took over as everyone tried to shout over the others. Meanwhile Tal San and Damarc re-entered the estate through the wooden gates and shut it behind them.

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The 9,900+ word short ebook Born Girl on Roma, will be available on Amazon. The cover is kind of terrible but I can change that later.

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 THE FOURTH is $2.99 or free to read with Kindle Unlimited


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Shadow People


This is an unfinished story and for the life of me, I have no idea how to end it.
 I guess it ends on sort of a cliff-hanger. *shrug*



Shadow People
By Floyd Looney
I was just sitting at the computer in the den typing away at the short story when I began feeling uncomfortable. There was tightness in my stomach and I guess I was starting to freak myself out just a bit. The story was not that scary, I told myself, the images in my head were. I was also angry at myself, why could I not put them down in words?
I fancied myself a writer but actually getting the ideas and thoughts down on paper had always been a tough thing for me. It took a lot of effort to just describe the simplest things. The story was crap even though the idea was good enough to actually scare me. I laughed a little at the thought that I had scared myself.
What? I glanced sideways. I was doing that a lot lately. I was always getting the impression that something was watching me. Watching me because I was here maybe? I shake my head and laugh at myself again for my ludicrous thoughts. This was a very large and old house but it was hardly haunted.
Maybe I should write in the day time?
I finished off the glass of water; its ice had melted long ago. I really should get to sleep unless I want to fall over at work tomorrow from exhaustion. The bedroom was next door to this smaller one that might have been a child’s room once upon a time.
The first time I saw this large two-story home I thought it was the perfect place to do some writing. It was full of charm and history and probably a tale or two. It was far removed from the city and it gave me the feeling of being in a different period of time.
I turned on the air conditioner in the bedroom daring me to question the cost of the electricity when I needed to get to sleep as soon as possible. I wondered if the large tiger blanket was childish as I turned off the lamp. Suddenly I had to turn it back on and look around swearing I saw something move near the door to the hall.
This is getting ridiculous. I hadn’t even written the story and I was giving myself hallucinations or something. I blamed it all on my overactive imagination and lay down with the lamp on. Within a couple minutes I had pulled the quilt over my head and had my eyes shut, listening for any sound.
I am way too big to be scared of shadows and imagination I told myself and here I am lying under the cover like there was a monster under the bed. I needed to get a radio, a clock radio with a very bright green time display. I was really angry at myself for scaring me, or something.


I truly despised my job. I worked at the back of a supermarket in the dairy and freezer and bread section of the store. I also swept and mopped the floor several times a day and sometimes helped sack the food and collect the grocery carts from outside. A horrible existence and most of my co-workers had issues of some form or another.
Before I rode my bike back to the old house I skimmed some of the new books and magazines that had been delivered. Stephen King, Tom Clancy and Anne McCaffrey among the books and then there was Popular Science, Popular Mechanics and Strange Tales among the magazines.
The air seemed very still on the way home and I did not see or hear another living thing or even a vehicle. It seemed like a diffused sort of light in hindsight as if the sun had become a low-wattage bulb. It sort of looked the way it would if there was a fog over you but not down to the ground.
I continued pedaling after leaving the asphalt for the gravel and stopped to look at the house before riding up to it. The trees in between the road and the house were swaying slightly but I hardly felt any breeze at all. I thought I was going deaf but when I moved my foot I heard the white stones clicking and clacking against one another.
Every time I come home to this house I get the distinct impression that I am not alone here and this time I told myself to get a dog. I told myself I can afford to feed a dog, just buy a huge bag of feed and it might last two months.
I turn on the computer and soon Yahoo! had automatically loaded. Its front page had a story about some old singer who looked vaguely familiar. I check my mail, eight junk mails and six unsolicited mails from websites telling me they had been updated. One from Odd/Things online magazine told me that my submission had been rejected.
As I sat down in front of the computer I distinctly saw a shadow moving by the door again but as I turned my head it was gone. Where had it come from and why had it vanished? The shadows of a tree do not vanish the second you look at it.
Had a squirrel run across the window? No, it wasn’t a squirrel I could have sworn it was…
That is just crazy I told myself; just absolutely crazy. Was I about to think that I had just seen the shadow of a little man run across the wall?
I get up and walk across the small room to the mini-fridge and I take out a can of soda and a bottle of water. I planned to sit there for hours and just write. Put my fingers on the keyboard until something came out in the English language.
I put my fingers on the keyboard and close my eyes as I tilt my face toward the sky or at least toward the ceiling. No stories at all were coming to me and I was beginning to get disgusted.
Writing was a lot harder than people thought. I guess it’s easy for some people and I wish I was one of them. All of my crazy ideas and thoughts and I was never able to put them down quite the way I wanted to. I just had to try harder or just let the story flow or something.
I go out into the backyard with the glass of water, the grass tickling my ankles inviting me to mow them. I wouldn’t mow them because I am far too lazy and I want to spend my weekends reading and writing. The yard was unkempt to say the least, old trees leaning over as if they would fall over one day for sheer boredom.
I guess I need to get out more. I think I’m seeing shadows that move on their own and trees that get bored. Come to think of it I don’t get out at all. It’s not like I actually know anyone in town.
I did not drink because my father had been an alcoholic and I was not going to voluntarily go into the bowling alley because it might just as well have been a saloon. There wasn’t anything in this town worth doing anyway; the best antique bookstore was all the way in Archer County.
The backyard was going to stay unkempt because I never really came out here and I just did not care to spend time on it.
I get a bottle of water from the downstairs kitchen and go to the living room and just collapse on the couch. Who had I been kidding besides myself that I could actually write something that someone would want to read?
I hold out the remote control to turn on the television set and pause to look at the door to the hallway. I felt as if I was being watched and someone else was in the room with me but there was no one. I looked all the way around but saw nothing moving but that there were shadows in nearly every corner.
I turned the television on and a local newscast was on. I barely heard anything as I spent the entire half-hour looking around at the shadows. An hour after the news went off and I had turned it to a science fiction program I felt better. The idea that I was being haunted by shadows had left my mind.
I spent another two hours on the internet mostly reading posts and articles on science fiction and several writing forums. There was nothing really there to help me out and I saw nothing that would inspire or motivate me to start writing again. I closed my eyes and breathed deeply and I wondered if there was anything that could help.
I opened my eyes and quickly looked into the room across the hall. There was a shadow on the wall and it had been moving. It was now frozen in place. I knew there was not a light source behind me or anything that could cause a shadow. I moved my head a bit but the shadow did not move. It was definitely not being cast by me.
There was nothing else that could have cast it.
I feel a heavy weight in the pit of my stomach but I manage to walk into the hallway and the little shadow was still there. It was now becoming dark outside, I could hear a chorus of crickets strumming their hind legs.
The shadow was barely more than a foot tall and it hadn’t moved since he noticed it. So it obviously noticed him. I chided myself for thinking that a shadow could think or notice anything, it was crazy. Yet I knew what I had seen and I knew it did not make any logical sense.
I stood in the doorway less than eight feet from the shadow and hardly allowed myself to blink. What am I supposed to do now, I wondered. Briefly I considered whether a person could catch a shadow in a jar. I nearly laughed out loud at my own stupid thoughts.
I took my time dropping to my knees and then crawling forward to get closer. It moved a little and now looked more like the shadow of a tiny person than an indistinct blob. I scooted only a little bit at a time, hopefully I wouldn’t scare it away. Whatever this thing was that had been living on my walls.
I’m not going to hurt you. Don’t hurt me either” I said in almost a whisper. Not exactly the kind of exalted words for the history books. I wonder if Captain Kirk or Spock would have started off a first contact with such babble. “We are not enemies okay?” I said with a bit of a smile.
I still wasn’t exactly sure what the thing was but I knew it could not have been anything that had been seen before. I think I would have heard about the discovery of shadow people in school or on National Geographic television somewhere along the line. I would definitely remember it.
I sat there for a few more minutes just a few feet from the wall where this thing was … what? I can’t call it sitting or anything it’s like a 2-D object. Whatever I’ll just say it was there on the wall probably scared of me. In all likelihood it was frightened or it would have taken off when I noticed it. With me getting so close must have been like torture or something, would it be in trouble with other shadow people?
Other shadow people I thought? There had to be others, it made sense. I hadn’t thought about it until I was right there close enough to touch the thing. Probably a very bad idea but it was in my mind and I could hardly resist.
Are you an alien?” I asked lightly, not expecting any response. Slowly I reached my arm out and decided that unless it moved or made it plain it didn’t want touched I would do it. Darn it, if this is first contact let there be contact.
My index finger was just inches from the wall when I saw movement around me and then darkness. Suddenly I felt ice cold on my arm and chills spread through me, I saw nothing but darkness. I couldn’t hear the chirping crickets anymore.
The sun was up bright and early when I woke. There were red marks on my arm, freezer burns.
Why did I wake up in this room? I never use this room. This big house is mostly unused – it was a bit much for a single guy. The sun was already streaming through the window and I hastened to get up and prepare for another boring day of working at a grocery store. I had remembered nothing from the night before.
At work a strange thing happened, a girl who worked as a checker at the front was sitting in the break room with her face in her hands. I knew this was a fifteen minute break because she hadn’t been working long enough to get a lunch break and besides, she wasn’t eating anything.
What’s wrong?” I asked. I thought she was just going to ignore me and I started to return to work when she peeked between her hands and said “Nothing really”
Nothing? This is nothing?”
She smiled vaguely and looked down at the empty tabletop and I felt embarrassed for asking about her problems. “I’m sorry, I should know better than to…”
It’s okay. I’m just tired, I’m having problems sleeping and that’s all really”
I know how that feels. I spend half the night trying to be a writer who can’t write and then I wake up in an empty room” I wasn’t about to be any more detailed than that. My being a loser who works at a grocery store is enough for everyone to know, seeing how I spend the rest of my loser time isn’t going to happen.
They scare me. I try to sleep covered up but it’s hard to sleep with them walking around” she said in a whisper. I didn’t believe what I had just heard. Or I simply disbelieved it or whatever the psycho babbling term for it was.
Them?” I asked. My heart felt as if it had just fallen into my stomach. Something was telling me to run and to get away from there. I loosened my collar and felt some sweat on my neck even though I was still cold from working in the freezer. “Who is ‘them’?”
I’m not really sure” she said. Drat, I was hoping she was talking about her cats or something. I pretty much thought I knew what was coming next. “I thought they might be ghosts or even aliens but they’re not. It’s just really weird. They’re only…”
She stopped talking and looked at me. She was very worried and embarrassed. She stood up and started to leave. “I’ve got to get back to my register, Thomas. I can’t talk any more”.
Before she pushed open the green flaps that served as doors I said “Shadows. They’re only shadows, right?”
She was stunned. Her hands went to her mouth and covered them as her eyes grew very wide, and she nodded before running through the doors to the front of the store. I stood there for a few more minutes, thinking about nothing. My mind was a complete blank.
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THE FOURTH has been released. It is a novel-length science fiction story with elements of space opera and dystopia. It is $2.99 but you can read it free if you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber.
Tara was created in an underground chamber on an abandoned and quarantined Earth, she feels compelled to bring civilisation back to the remnants that survive there.
Greyson is the child of privilege who was exiled from the planet Roma by his own father before taking up with space pirates. He wants to return home and face his father.
Their paths were destined to cross.
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