We are fortunate to have Lockie (Lockard) Young on 4Q this
Friday. Lockie has written a YA novel, Ryan’s Legend, published by Morning Rain
Publishers of Ontario and is happily working on the sequel. He is a familiar
guest on the South Branch Scribbler with several of his entertaining short
stories being featured. Lockie has been showcased on many blogs, recommended
reading sites and most recently in the Times Transcript, Moncton’s major daily.
You can find out more about Lockie, more of his poems and witty ramblings, by
clicking his link below.
4Q: Thanks for being a
part of the Scribbler, Lockie.Sometime
ago you and your wife, Trish, visited South Africa.You brought back many great photos and as
many memories I expect. Did this visit to a foreign country so far away, or the
people, have any influence on your writing or inspirations?
LY: Africa was amazing. I
can’t put my finger on it, and not to sound corny, but Africa had a profound
effect on me, almost like a religious experience. When I stepped off the plane,
it was like coming home, and I am not a person who likes the heat, so this was
confusing for me. The people we met were so friendly, and it really felt like
family when these strangers welcomed us into their homes and their lives. When
I got back to Canada, and things settled down and my wife and I got back to
work and a normal life again, I found I couldn’t stop writing about my other
home, Africa. I have several poems
inspired by the amazing animals we saw there. The traditional animals like
Giraffe and Zebra, which to me were only pictures in National Geographic
magazine before, had been right there, outside our car window. My wife and I
toured South Africa and Swaziland with my father in law and mother in law. My
short story and poem titled Diary of an Orphan was inspired by a visit to an
orphanage in Swaziland.
4Q: What can you tell us
about the sequel to Ryan’s Legend?
LY: The working title is
Ryan’s Legend Returns, and picks up where the first story leaves off.It’s summer break, and the main character,
Ryan, has a few adventures with his best friend Cory. Ryan teaches Cory, a city
boy, about life along the sea shore, all the while anxiously awaiting the
return of his other ‘Legendary’ friend Willie. Parts of the sequel were written
at the same time as Ryan’s Legend, back in 1995, and were in fact all one book
back then. On the advice of a self published Author and Publisher at the time,
I split the original manuscript into two parts, as it was thought to be too
long for a middle grade reader.
After my first book, was picked up by Morning Rain
Publishing I worked on finishing and
adding to the second half, which is more than twice as long as Ryan’s Legend.
It is currently being considered, and I am waiting on word if Morning Rain
wants to publish it. I hope it will get picked up, and maybe be published later
4Q: Please share a
childhood anecdote or memory.
LY: Some of my readers and
fans may know that I am a Plumber by trade, but long before I became a Plumber,
when I was just a boy of maybe seven or eight years of age, I went with my Mom
and Dad to visit relatives in a small community not too far from Moncton,
called Harcourt. While there I asked if I could go to the bathroom, and I was
directed to a small out building in back of the house. I could tell as soon as
I opened the door that I was in the right place. When I returned to where the
adults had gathered in the parlor, I was asked what had taken me so long. And I
answered that I was very sorry, but I had searched that darn building all over
and I just couldn’t find the flush handle for the toilet.
4Q: Please tell us what’s
in store for us in the future; what else you’re working on?
LY:As you know, Allan, I lost my right leg last
year to arterial disease caused by smoking a pack a day for 30 some years, and
during my recovery, and adjustment to a drastic lifestyle change, I’ve been
writing as part of the healing process. I’ve written several short stories and
a couple of, what I’ve discovered are called ‘personal essays’ and I am also
working on a memoir of my personal journey on this new road as an amputee. The
memoir is a step outside of the box for me as I’ve never written a nonfiction
work, and I find it both challenging and therapeutic as I revisit the past 2
years of my life.
So, when I get stuck
with what to write in the next novel in the ‘Legend’ series, and I need a
change of pace or scenery, I pick up where I left off in my memoir, or I change
genres and try my hand at another short story. I may see if my publisher is
interested in a compilation of my short stories. I haven’t written any poetry lately, but I
have to be inspired for that too. The other day, when I was stuck on ‘The
Legend Never Dies’ (working Title) I opened up a new word doc and I just wrote
and wrote all day, missing lunch and almost missing supper, until I wrote The
End at last. The word count on Paradise White is 8000 words, and I hope to
whittle that short story down in edits. So that is how I roll. I took an early
retirement because of my new physical limitations, and now I am fortunate that I
can write whenever I want and I am enjoying the freedom to do what I really
truly love to do.
You have been a tremendous supporter of your fellow authors,
sharing, giving us a pat on the back, being a nice guy so thanks Lockie on
behalf of us all. Keep those stories coming.
Next week I will offer 4 teasers of my short story compilation SHORTS Vol.1. As well as what inspired these stories. The SHORT series is dedicated to my grandchildren with Vol. 1 for my oldest grandson, Matthieu. Vol. 2 will be published in September, with Vol. 3 to follow in November.
Bobby Nash is an award winning author that hails from Bethlehem, Georgia. An exceptionally creative individual that writes novels, comics, graphic novels, short prose, media tie-ins, screenplays and more. When not busy writing, he is an actor that appears in movies and television. His web site is below.
ALEXANDRA HOLZER’S GHOST
GAL: THE WILD HUNT
EXCERPT WRITTEN BY BOBBY
Energy crackled through the halls of the old castle
like a thing alive.
With each whip-snap discharge, loud, thunderous
booms echoed off the thick stone that made up the walls of the castle keep.
Those stones, which had been so meticulously removed from their original home
and shipped over to the New World piece by piece from an Irish castle the
wealthy new owner had recently purchased, were unlike any other. It had taken
months for shipping magnate Conrad Bartlett to disassemble the castle, catalog,
number, and crate each piece, ship it across the Atlantic, and reassemble it on
his families land in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Under normal circumstances, such an undertaking
would have been a costly endeavor, but tensions in the Atlantic were high as
both Nazi and Allied forces ran their military campaigns in the region almost
non-stop. Soon, the entire planet would be gripped by the hells of war. If not
for Bartlett’s military contract allowing him to cross the ocean at regular
intervals, the yearlong reconstruction of the castle in the United States might
never have been completed.
In hindsight, Conrad Bartlett might have wished that
to be the case.
In addition to the physical attributes of the castle
keep, he also brought with it the castle’s dark secret, a long and bloody
history dating back to the earliest days of Ireland itself, perhaps even before
that, a secret that had been locked away for centuries, hidden from prying
And now that secret had been loosed on an
Unless the specialist he called in could put a stop
Outside, lightning sparked while thunder roared as
the storm grew more and more fierce. Gale force rain pelted everything in its
path with big wet droplets mixed with hail and flying debris tossed about by
violent winds. The turbulent weather outside was like a mirror to the chaos
brewing inside the recently rebuilt castle.
Hans Holzer let out a breath. He had only been on
the scene an hour before things took a turn to the strange. Conrad Barnett’s
telegram about his unique problem had piqued his curiosity, but he hadn’t
expected to find anything more than a minor disturbance. He hadn’t expected to
find much, most likely a displaced spirit long dormant that had been disturbed
when its home had been disassembled and reassembled halfway around the world.
It was enough to throw off anyone’s equilibrium, even if they had been dead for
decades or longer, but as threats go, it was probably minor.
He was wrong.
Once the storm began to strengthen in intensity, he
realized that things were worse than he had first believed.
Hans Holzer held a torch in front of him as he moved
through the darkness. Flames from the torch cast the only light since the
generator succumbed to a lightning strike just a few moments earlier. The torch
had once been the leg of an antique chair, or at least an expensive recreation
of one. A cloth curtain pulled from one of the windows then doused with lighter
fluid and ignited completed the makeshift lantern. It was a quick solution to a
It was the problem that lay ahead that concerned
“These walls are not pure stone,” he said aloud,
running a callused hand across the uneven stone. “Whatever that metal component
we discovered turns out to be, it is highly conductive. The lightning striking
the weather vanes on the roof is not simply redirecting the electricity of the
strikes. The energy is being absorbed through the walls.” He leaned in close
enough to smell the earthy musk of the hand-carved stone. “Incredible. It’s
almost as if the entire castle is alive. I’ve never seen--”
Holzer sighed loudly at the interruption. It was not
the first one of the evening. “Yes. What is it, Jamie?”
“I need a moment, sir,” Jamie McClenndon said from
somewhere in the dark behind him.
Jamie was the latest in a long line of assistants
who came to him because they wanted to learn the “real truth” of the world.
Most were college students, like Jamie. They rarely lasted long in the position
and Holzer suspected that Jamie would be no different than those who came
before. Like the others before him, his desire to experience a supernatural
moment came from seeing motion pictures featuring scary monsters. He wanted to
see a ghost, to prove that they were real, and that he would be brave enough to
interact with it. The reality of the moment was never what any of them expected
and was rarely like what they saw in the movies. Ghost hunting, for lack of a
better term, was not easy and the professor had little time or patience for
handholding. If Jamie wanted to be coddled in the face of the unknown then he
had come to the wrong place.
As his family was of Irish descent, Holzer had hoped
Jamie would come in handy on this excursion, but sadly his knowledge of the
homeland of his ancestors was severely lacking. He blamed modern education for
the boy’s lack of knowledge.
“Make it quick,” Holzer said, not bothering to hide
his annoyance as he checked his pocket watch. “Our quarry is here. I can feel
“Yes, Professor. I know,” Jamie said softly. There
was an unusual quiver to his voice.
“We must find him before…”
The crash of his equipment hitting the hard stone
floor behind him interrupted his train of thought and Hans Holzer spun around
to face his assistant, ready to give him an earful about responsibility and
taking care of the sensitive equipment left in his care. The equipment he had
been tasked with carrying was not only delicate, it was also very expensive.
“I’ve told you repeatedly to be careful… with…
that…” his voice trailed off when he saw why Jamie had discarded the equipment
in so loud a fashion.
“I–– I think I’ve already found him,” Jamie said
softly, careful not to move lest the sharp blade at his throat draw blood.
“Easy now, Jamie,” Holzer said, taking a tentative
step forward, keeping the torch an arm’s length ahead of him and casting an
orange glow on the intruder who held his young assistant hostage. “Don’t move.”
“Who are you?” Holzer asked the man holding the
“You know my name, laddie,” the intruder said. He
was tall, towering a couple of inches above Jamie’s six foot-two lanky frame.
His arms were thick, muscled, and looked as though they could snap his
assistant like a twig. His face was obscured by the light, his skin dark, but
made darker by the soot and ash that clung to his body, giving him a mottled
gray pallor. Long black hair hung behind him, matching the color of the thick
matted beard he wore.
“I know the man whose body you wear,” Holzer said.
“His name is Duncan. He works for Mr. Bartlett.”
“Very clever, you are,” the entity that had taken
control of Duncan McGrath’s body said. “I see that you are familiar with my
kind. So much the better. Oh, and his name was Duncan. He has no use for a name
“Do not hurt that boy.”
“You’re not in any position to be giving orders,
“You know my name?”
“Oh, yes,” the man said. “I know everything my host
knew. Young Duncan knew who you were. He seemed to think you might save him
somehow, although I think his faith might be a wee bit misplaced myself. You’ve
given me a good laugh watching as you run about the castle with your little
toys and gadgets. You amuse me, Professor.”
“What do you want?”
“Such a leading question.” Duncan smiled. “What do
you think I want?”
“I already have freedom, sir. I am free to roam this
castle at my whim. Look around you, do you see any chains to hold me hither?”
The professor smiled. “Actually, I do.”
“It’s so obvious. Curse me for a fool; I should have
noticed it sooner. This place…” he motioned toward the castle around them. He
rapped a knuckle against the stone wall. “This place is your prison. The
lightning, the stone, the mystery metal, those things aren’t meant to empower
you, are they? This castle is your prison.”
“Oh, sure, this far removed from your ancestral
home, the power that keeps you trapped here has lessened, but not enough for
you to escape. Not completely. You can move about within these walls, but you
can never venture beyond them. You’re trapped here like an animal in a cage.”
“We’ll see about that, laddie,” Duncan said, his
smile widening. “This animal still has teeth.”
“Don’t,” Holzer warned, but it was too late.
With a powerful shove, Duncan threw Jamie McClenndon
at the ghost hunter. The student crashed into his teacher and they fell to the
floor in a tangle of arms and legs, the torch falling from Holzer’s hand and
There was just enough light to see Duncan run past
them down the hallway.
GHOST GAL: THE WILD HUNT--
Holzer is just your average young paranormal investigator out to show an early
1960s New York City she knows a thing or two about ghosts. Join Alex's alter
ego, GHOST GAL, and her fiancé, Joshua Demerest as they do battle with a very
ancient ghost and his pals who have a score to settle with her famed father,
ghost hunter, Hans Holzer.
Holzer's Ghost Gal: The Wild Hunt by Bobby Nash is the first book in a series
of new horror/adventures novels from Raven's Head Press.
Mitzi Szereto lives in the United Kingdom. She is an author, blogger, Mitzi TV creator/presenter, literary mischief-maker and mother to Teddy Tedaloo, celebrity bear. . She also has a number of books and short fiction available for Kindle, Nook, Kobo and iTunes. She has pioneered erotic writing workshops in the UK and mainland Europe, teaching them from the Cheltenham Festival of Literature to the Greek islands. She’s also lectured in creative writing at several British universities.Her website is listed below.
Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) by Mitzi
Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo
Thelonious T. Bear, ursine photojournalist, leaves behind the big
city life of London to take an assignment in the Norfolk countryside, where he
hopes to find therealEngland. Instead he stumbles upon gastro-pubs, crazed Audi drivers
and murder. As the hapless Thelonious keeps ending up in the wrong place at the
wrong time, he attracts the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Horatio
Sidebottom of Norfolk Constabulary CID, who’s determined to tie Thelonious to
the crimes. Add in a pair of hoods from London’s East End, celebrity TV chef
Paolo Louis Black, and plenty of oddball local characters and it all adds up to
a madcap journey through England’s most quirky county, whereeverythingis normal for
Little Acre was all abuzz with news about the murder of
one of their native sons. Derrick Pickles, long-time proprietor of The Black
Stag public house in the adjacent village of Kelton Market, had been found
bludgeoned to death. Pickles had lived in the village since the day he was
born, the pub having been in his family for generations. He’d taken it over
from his father, who’d taken it over from his father, and so on and so on. The
Pickles were a Norfolk institution, and Derrick was well-liked and respected in
the community. Not even the taint of his only son going off to work in The City
rather than positioning himself to one day take over the reins of the family
business could dampen the locals’ affection for the family, though forgiveness
wasn’t always as easy to come by. Feelings and memories ran deep in this part
of the world, despite young Pickles defection to London taking place nearly two
decades before, which, at least to the locals, might as well have been
yesterday. Not even the death of his mother many years later could bring young
Pickles back in line. But old Derrick stubbornly clung on, running the pub long
after most publicans would have sold up and retired to Spain or
Portugal—especially a widower with no one to stay behind for.
Being the only pub in the village, The Black Stag was a
magnet for the locals, not to mention tourists in search of some local colour.
Kelton Market was conveniently situated in the county, what with the ruins of
an old castle located just outside the village and a bustling crafts and
antiques market taking place on weekends, so it was a rare day, indeed, when
the pub wasn’t busy. The fact that a murder had been committed was not
something the residents of this part of Norfolk were accustomed to. The most
crime they ever got was of the sort involving the theft of a cockerel from a
farm or some youths out joyriding on a tractor. But murder? No. Murders
happened in London and Birmingham and Glasgow. They did not happen in Kelton Market.
Therefore when Thelonious heaved open the heavy glass
door of Little Acre’s one and only newsagents in his quest to buy a copy of the
local newspaper (or as local as he could get), he discovered quite a crowd
gathered inside the cramped little shop. A trio of men representing three
generations and an elderly woman who had to have been pushing the century mark
were gathered in front of the till, talking animatedly and all at the same
time, the garrulous din being added to by a frumpy sixty-something woman behind
the counter. She appeared to be refereeing the conversation, her heavy arms
flapping and waving about as if she were attempting to direct a newly landed
plane to an airport gate.
The youngest of the men was dressed in a white
beekeeper’s suit, the hood of which had been pushed back behind his head. Hair
the shade and texture of the round bales of hay Thelonious had seen in the
fields of the surrounding landscape kept falling down over his eyes, causing
him to reach up to swipe it away, whereupon the same thing happened all over
again. He had the open and guileless mien of someone who’d grown up in the
country and had little to no experience with big city life. The oldest of the
trio had a pickled and world-weary look about him that could only have been
achieved from a lifetime of heavy drinking. His deeply creased face was the
colour of cured tobacco leaves, his overall appearance untidy and unwashed. He
clutched an unlighted cigarette between the fingers of his right hand, the skin
and nails stained a sickly yellow-orange from nicotine. Had it not been for his
expensive-looking leather jacket, Thelonious might have mistaken him for a
homeless man. The third fellow was aged somewhere between the two and, judging
by his collar, appeared to be a vicar. He kept trying to get the group to quiet
down, his pale palms making circles in the air as if he were washing invisible
windows. Instead of having the desired effect, the group became even more
animated, as if seeking to exorcise the vicar’s fruitless attempts at calm.
The elderly woman to whom no one paid any mind bashed the
rubber-tipped feet of her Zimmer frame against the worn linoleum floor until
she was in danger of toppling over. Nevertheless, the accompanying staccato of
protestations coming from her shrivelled maw continued to fall on deaf ears.
Her hunched form looked as if it might crumple into a heap of ancient bones as
she slammed the rattling frame of steel to the lino again and again, her grey
head bobbing up and down on her withered neck like a nodding dashboard dog. But
no matter how much she crashed and banged and spluttered, she could not be
heard above her village compatriots, who were determined to get their points
across despite the fact no one was listening to anyone.
It didn’t take long for Thelonious to determine that something
was definitely up—and the headline shouting at him from the front page of the Walsham Courier pretty much confirmed
it. He pulled a copy out from the news rack and waddled over to the side of the
counter, stretching upward on his short legs to hold out some coins to the
sour-faced shopkeeper, who abruptly ceased her refereeing to gawp at him. Not
that this was unusual—Thelonious got gawped at a lot, especially by people
who’d never encountered his sort before. You would think she’d be a bit more
discreet when it came to paying customers, he grumbled inwardly, biting back
the urge to tell her to get a new front door fitted. The one she had weighed as
much as a London bus. His right shoulder was beginning to ache something awful
from the impact of it against the glass when he’d pushed it open. He hoped the
B&B his publisher’s UK office had booked him into had a bathtub and decent
hot water system so he could have a long soak later, because he didn’t fancy
looking elsewhere for accommodation, especially at the beginning of the summer
tourist season. For him to be able to work, he needed a home base, a sense of
order. Chaos was not Thelonious’ style.
With newspaper in hand, he made his way out of the
newsagent’s, only to pause outside to examine the cards and notices that had
been placed in the shop window (which apparently cost each poster the princely
sum of five pounds a week to display). He was curious as to what kinds of items
and services people put on offer in these Norfolk villages and expected to see
advertisements of either an agrarian nature or for church jumble sales. Not
surprisingly, they were positioned too high up for him to read properly, but he
did manage to make out a card for an electrician slash handyman as well as a
flyer for a beekeeping school before his neck threatened to join his shoulder
Thelonious trundled back to where he’d left the Mini,
climbed up onto the driver’s seat with the usual fanfare and aggro, then set
off down the little high street with its requisite tea shop/café, gift shop,
post office (closed due to government cutbacks), and pub, which went by the
rather portentous name The Drowned Duck. Within moments he’d reached the Norman
church that marked the end of the village high street. It was also the turnoff
for Baxter House Bed and Breakfast. Home
Thank you Mitzi for sharing an excerpt of Normal for Norfolk. A story I am looking forward to reading. Discover more about Mitzi at www.mitziszereto.com - you'll like what you discover.
Next week The South Branch Scribbler will feature guest author Bobby Nash of Georgia USA
Mall is 603 miles above Earth. It’s located in the 16-A Octagonal of the
InterCosmic Manor 2599 (the year it was completed). The Off-Earth Living Pod
(LP) is two miles long, two miles wide and three hundred feet deep, taking twenty-one
years to complete. Shaped like an octagon, the frame is built of lunarium, the
hardest and lightest metal known to man, mined deep below the surface of the
moon. The ore was smelted, refined and the frame was shaped in the Galactic
Forge 2412. The surface is covered with a golden skin of polyalymel, a
combination of high density plastic from Earth, malleable alloys and elements
from Mars. It has the ability to absorb and store light, providing all the
power the manor needs. Sand, immense heat and pressure have been added to the
compound to create the nine hundred and fifty-seven transparent glass panels through
which its populace can view the stars, other Pods and Earth. Each of its thirty
levels is divided into eight sections called an Octagonal. Each floor has 20 bulk elevators and 78 HTDs -
human transmission depositories.
Manor 2599, informally referred to as “Mac99”
in reference to the original pioneer of living Off-Earth in self-sustaining Pods in the twenty third century, Macintosh
Fairweather , is home to over 80 thousand people. More than nine hundred of
them tend the gardens and the forest on level four, unofficially referred to as
the ‘feed and breathe’ level. Hundreds
more tend the animals on level three, or manage the silage and fodder or
control the enormous stores. Another seven thousand inhabitants work on levels
one and two which are devoted to the power plants, the waste center, water
control, ventilation, heating, maintenance, computer and communications center,
robot and probe repair, janitorial, the recycling complex, the air transport
garages, emergency response department and the morgue. The shipping and
receiving docks for goods traded with Earth, Jupiter, Venus, Moon stations and
the other satellites occupy their own Octagonal on levels one and two.
and the extremely wealthy occupy enormous, extravagant suites on level thirty.
They, their robots and their appointed staff are the only ones allowed at that
level. Even the HTDs are programmed to detect designated biological signatures
from each person’s Mac99 implant that
they receive when arriving or are born here. Refusing the implant is not an
option. LPs beyond the 200 mile ISB or International Space Boundary are
responsible for their own safety, their own laws. Of the 263 LPs circling the
earth, only two are hostile. Both orbit at miles 450 and 455 respectively, in the
Scatter Zone between miles 445 and 465, where LP 2290 was destroyed by an
asteroid. There are very few rules there, every vice you can conceive and
slavery is legal. The owners and their mercenaries are ruthless; people do as
they are told.The rogue LPs are officially
called LV2477 and LV2501 but the populace refer to them as LV1 and LV2. Only
one other LP orbits in this zone, the former InterCosmic PRT(prison/rehab/termination)2344,.
It revolves the over populated Earth mostly uninhabited, a floating rusting
On Mac99 manufacturing takes up levels 14
and 15. Level 16 is dedicated solely to education. Security headquarters, the
armory, admin, governmental offices, entertainment facilities, a worship hub, and
hospital are all on level 17, as is the shopping center. One Octagonal is
solely devoted to trade. The ethnic food
franchises are in main entrance. The second hub is where the larger franchises
are located, SpaceMart, Future Shop and Fong’s Hardware taking up half the
floor area. Beyond that there are boutiques and specialty shops.
coveted outer wall the shops face Earth. Each boutique offers full transparent panels
where guests can view the ever changing sky as they browse or shop. Luxuriously
appointed, only the wealthiest of store owners can afford the lease.
Alexander’s Fine Jewellery is one such occupant.It is situated in the very center of the
outer perimeter with the entrance facing the fine dining concourse, the upscale
cafes where the moneyed take their lunch. The varied cuisine emits pleasant
aromas of spices and rare herbs. People of every possible nationality roam the
hallways, searching for baubles or necessities. If the buying patrons venture
this deep into the shopping mecca, the only common denominator would be wealth.
Yet, dreamers and the regular drifters
roam the halls.
A baby’s cry
rises above the gossip and stray chatter that fill the open areas causing
people pause. Babies are rare. The mother, her escorts and personal defense
droid follow her to an open park-like seating area in the next establishment, Vittorio’s Gardens. Joe Average cannot afford the protection and
usually opts for sterilization. Dreaded creatures called virkon-eptiles, are carnivorous and prefer humans, especially their
young. It is only preceding this interruption that patrons eye the golden
droids hovering abundantly around the ceilings. One is stationary in front of
every HTD which are busy today transporting shoppers.Every defbot can react within a millisecond
of sight, sound or smell of a virkon-eptile,
destroying the worm like parasite instantaneously with a powerful laser
blast. There is no hesitation from the droid, no matter what or who comes
between the dreaded monster and the laser; it will be vaporized as well.
not been a sighting for over a year within Old
Mack, until last week in Loading Bay 14 on Level 2. It was assumed it ate
the driver only minutes before docking his water transport. It took two lasers
1/100th of a second to simultaneously detect and destroy it. Nothing
remained except a small gathering of gray ash. Virkon-eptiles grew from dormant bacteria captured on an astronaut’s
clothing when the mining of Asteroid Pliney took place last century, his name
was Dismas Virkon. Exposed to high CO2 levels and water, the beings that
evolved are reptilian, they can think and are able to manipulate their own DNA
to replicate anything organic it comes in contact with. It can perform this
function for only a short time, thirty minutes or less needing ten to twelve
hours to regenerate. Scientists from the InterCosmic Lab2424 are making
terrific headway at being able to duplicate this unique ability by
experimenting on both dead and live specimens. All but a small cache of virkon-eptiles have been eradicated. Only those alive are corralled
on Prison 2344; they live off the human detritus from LV1 & LV2. Some of
them escape. They are extremely fast. Sometimes LPs experience power
malfunctions shutting down most defense systems. If a virkon-eptile is hiding, lying in wait, it is this moment it will
feed. There was an outage on Mac99 yesterday.
That was why
Alexander’s Fine Jewellery is having a PLS – Personal Laser System - installed.
During the blackout Mac99’s emergency
power went to where it was most needed, especially the HTDs and weapons on the top
four floors. The general power was interrupted for only two minutes but 65% of
the LP remained weaponless for that short time. That was too long when beings
that could eat three humans in ninety seconds might be present.
nee Alexander, does not want to
experience such fear like she did when they experienced the outage before
closing time yesterday.Every unit went
to immediate lock-down. Doors shut whether you were in or out or in between. Everyone
was scrambling for a place to hide, knocking over the chairs, sliding and
bunching up her antique carpets, tipping her Moon Drop display with several of
the rare crystals shattering. People beating at her glass doors that she was
unable to open broke her heart. She shakes her thick auburn hair out of her
face as she tries to forget about last night and concentrate on serving her
guest. Handing a gaily colored gift bag with the Alexander A in gold foil gracing the outer flap, to a young man distinguished
by his spindly frame and bushy eyebrows, she says,
for your business Mr. Dubrowski. This is a moment neither you nor your dear
friend Candace will ever forget. Please bring her in sometime so we can meet
‘Thank you for helping me pick out
that beautiful ring, I know she’s going to love it.”
grinning he waves as he hastens to leave, already late on his lunch break from
the Orbital Control Center where he monitors the propulsion systems in the
back before surveying her premises. Beside her the PLS Installer, a bent- over
middle aged man, terribly bowlegged and much too serious, is sliding a black
box into a cubicle he shaped under the serving area that centers the
premises.The work station is within the
twelve foot circle. The base is uncommon red pine harvested from underwater
fifty years after the flooding of the lower mountains in Canada when a large
portion of the Arctic polar cap melted rapidly in the twenty third century.
Crafted into a perfect circle, the lacquered wood supports a thin 30 inch
horizontal panel where the clients are served. The total surface of the counter
is a layer of durable, touch and voice sensitive, extreme-tech plasma. The
overall screen shows a replica of the circles of Saturn. The point of sale or
POS system can be anywhere they are standing.
her hands upon her shapely hips, jewels sparkling from several well-manicured
fingers. Her silk jacket is tucked neatly behind them. She regards her number
one sales person, Aisha regale one of their regular patrons to the joys of
owning a four carat Martian cyntonium, the largest available Off-Earth.Her part time worker, Cristofer, is
rearranging her Moon Drop display, adding new pieces to replace the broken
ones. Michelle her manager is helping a young couple select their wedding
bands. There are two other patrons in the store, “just looking”. The Installer
is replacing his tools in the small cloth bag he brought in with him. Wiping
his hands on a faded blue cloth he turns to Gracia.
is ready to go Ms. Moeller.”
He hands her
two pulse pistols, the latest in fashion weaponry as well as two stylish
holsters that are chameleonized to change color with whatever outfit they may
be wearing. One is custom built to fit in her hand only, programmed to
recognize the ID signal from her implant only, the trigger activated by her nerve
impulses only. The other is for her manager. With a long face that expresses little
joy for his work, the installer adds as if by rote.
be charged tomorrow by one of our guns specialists. He or she will be
explaining the usage, the dangers, the responsibilities, the laws, the
licensing and the deadliness of these weapons. I urge extreme caution, always.
I hope you never have to use them. There are holders for these in the console I
just installed, where they will remain at night to hold their charge. Did you
have any questions before I leave?”
the large letters emblazoned on the chest of his coveralls, BOB.Thinking that the letters are his name, she
“So the guns
are harmless now Bob?”
his brow with a questioning look he replies,
Ralph and yeah, you couldn’t kill a mars-bugg with these.”
had no way of knowing is that the apprentice armorer, in her zealous approach
to her new responsibilities did indeed charge these weapons. Not understanding
the flag in the work orders, the “gunrat”, as they were referred to in the
armory, loaded a full force to each one in her work station. In a parlance from
the twentieth century, that still defines a deadly readiness –they are, locked and loaded.
paraphernalia on the counter top, Gracia turns to him with her hand out adding
Ralph.” She points her finger at the letters on his chest, “I thought…well
anyway, thank you for the nice work. Please come back and visit again, bring
interrupted by the distinct sound of sharp heels clicking on the hard
stoneoleum in the hallway. She stops shaking Ralph’s hand standing motionless
with her ear cocked towards the sound. A frown crosses her pretty face, the
dimples more pronounced. Ralph bug eyes at her sudden hesitation, deciding he
should leave. Releasing her hand he hastens away.
“Good day to
you Ms. Moeller.”
ignoring him, all thoughts of the installer vanished, all thoughts of the
loaded weapons eliminated. Pursing her lips, rubbing her hands in anticipation,
she realizes from the gait of the approaching clackety-clack it is that damn
Mrs. Abernathy.The woman will not quit.
Turning to Michelle who has heard the announcement as well, they nod in
confirmation. They already planned what to do when the bothersome shopper
Abernathy is not as wealthy as she pretends to be. Inheriting a suite of rooms
on the 27th level from her fourth husband is difficult to maintain
when the slime left everything else to his mistress. Using the last of the
currency her father bequeathed her, the botcredits
are going quickly. She has the annoying habit of buying expensive jewels and
returning them after she wears them to some social function that the rich dally
in. Her relentless pursuit of spouse #5, in her mind, requires being seen at
all the ‘right’ places, as well as being seen in the latest and richest
baubles. Even after the passing of centuries, the advancement in sciences, the
ease of living, some things never change.
The latest acquisition
was a pair of earrings. Flawless 1.4 carat shycetic gems from Phobos, the
largest moon of Mars. Only 3000 carats were mined before the operation was
deserted as being too costly with fewer gems being discovered. Light that is
captured in them returns to the beholder’s eyes as a dazzling spectrum of
strong colors. They are very hard to find. Making them even more valuable is
that they are they only precious stone to have a scent, emitting an aroma that
can only be depicted as floral. The stones adapt to each human’s chemistry to
evoke a unique perfume. Highly sought after, they are very expensive. Mrs.
Abernathy purchased them on Friday. She will want to return them today.
irritable noise of her approach is hushed when she turns into the store to walk
upon antique hemp rugs woven by hand in the 24th century by weavers
from the “Double LP” (Love & Peace Living Pod 2401). Agnes Abernathy is
doomly clad in this season’s colors, black and blood red. Only her pink hat
covering short silver locks softens her somber presence. Her face and hands are
dyed a silver slightly darker than her hair which is quite the rage for those
that visit Earth frequently. For some unexplainable reason many rich men find
it attractive. Holding a matching pink clutch in one silver hand, she swings a
small tote with the recognizable A upon it. When she reaches the counter where
Gracia is standing she moues as she waves the bag in the air before setting it
upon the sales area.
Gracia but these just won’t do, there is too much blue in their dispersion and
it clashes horribly with my wardrobe. I’m afraid I’ll have to return them my dear.”
trying very much to be nice, it is ingrained in her from her ancestors to show
their clients respect but this has got to come to an end. With a smile that
might freeze butter, she says,
not Mrs. Abernathy. Did you not read the notice on your communicator when you
purchased them? They are not returnable. It states very clearly on your
steps back in astonishment at the boldness of Gracia’s delivery. Her immediate
thought is the five hundred thousand botcredits
the jewels represent. Currency she cannot afford to be without. Indignation
takes precedence over kindness as she replies coldly,
little of what is posted on my “communicator” as you call it. I’m much too busy
to trifle over mere receipts of payment. I purchase many items here Ms.
is more formal. In her guest’s hesitation Gracia speaks up.
make many purchases Mrs. Abernathy but you return everything.”
cannot contain herself any longer. She does not run a rental shop.One hand akimbo, the other with an accusing
finger pointing at her client’s grey pallor made pinkish by the boiling blood
“I’m wise to
you Mrs. Abernathy, you wear the purchases to one of your calendar events and
then return them but not always this soon. Of course we do not move in the same
groupings, I did however, see you at the Spatial Charity Experience. Those very
earrings caused quite a sensation amongst the hundreds that attended. I searched
for the owner, knowing you had the only ones aboard the Manor. I’m sorry, but
you own those now.Now if you please, I
would appreciate it if you would leave.”
she said it Gracia softens somewhat. Agnes Abernathy does not. In a loud voice
so that everyone can hear, she exclaims her disappointment, the way she is
being treated. More angrily she goes on about her distaste for anything she
purchased, her demands for the return of the earrings. Gracia cannot calm her
down. She has a sudden hate for this woman that continues to harangue her.
Everyone in the store is still. The two “lookers” decide to leave. Patrons in
the restaurants across the way have paused in their dining to listen. There is
no stopping the dirge of anger that passes through Abernathy’s mouth. When the
language begins to turn profane, Gracia decides it is time to summon
security.When she reaches down to the
console she spies the pulse pistols. Picking up the one that is hers, the
molded weapon slides easily into her grip. The sleek weapon is the most
advanced available. It takes fifty thousand nanoseconds to respond to Moeller’s
ID. Wishing it was loaded she points it at the yelling woman in a mocking
gesture, even though it is illegal to use it on human beings.
knows what is in Moeller’s hand and immediately shuts up, backing several steps
from the serving area. Gracia thinks the weapon is sterile. Nerve impulses to
the sensitive tellium surface of the trigger tells it to fire. A beat of pure
energy is released to consume the first obstacle in its path which in this case
is Mrs. Abernathy. Like a black hole, the woman implodes, every iota of her
being is consumed within seconds.
Moeller cannot believe what she has done. Her voice is a shocked whisper.
Watch next week when guest author Mitzi Szereto from the United Kingdom shares some of her awesome writing.