Monday, December 31, 2012

Countdown to Willow in the Desert - Four Days

Her thoughts were interrupted by the telltale chitter of an alien Old One, followed by a still-human sounding, “Oh hi.  You’re up.”

 Carli and Leo both turned without alarm, recognizing the voice.  Gordon Danvers came into the room, his near seven feet forcing him to duck slightly under the doorway.  Carli carefully kept her sadness at his appearance from her expression.

Gordon had come back with them following their attack on Houston’s Pyramid nine months ago.  The Old Ones had imprisoned him there, and like a few of the newer Becoming aliens, he’d been all too happy to help the Freetown soldiers destroy the Pyramid’s inhabitants.  Gordon was now one of thirty-six Becomings living in Freetown.

When Carli and Leo had found him guarding the one entrance into the Pyramid, Gordon was still human in appearance.  He’d only recently been subjected to the last rite of transformation that was forced on some humans captured by the aliens.  Injected with their DNA, Gordon’s genetic code was being rewritten at a fast rate, gradually turning him into an Old One.

He was male in only memory now, the alien changes making him genderless.  He still wore clothing, though the stifling heat of the day and frigid cold of the night meant nothing to him at this late stage of the Becoming.  Tufts of sandy brown hair sprang in bereft bunches from his elongated pate.  Where his nose had once existed, there now only remained a nub.  His mouth had taken on the pursed droopiness that was the beginning of a bloodsucking siphon.  A single dagger fang erupting from his upper gum peeked out from time to time as he spoke.  His arms, obscenely long and bristle-haired where they stretched out of his Texans sweatshirt, had the bent praying mantis look.  His hands were now pincers, the fingers fused together.

Usually by the time a Becoming had reached Gordon’s level of transformation, the need for blood made the creature a danger to humans.  But Gordon was different.  For some reason he seemed immune to the wild rages that could only be calmed by drinking live blood.  Freetown’s doctor Elijah Webb had opined it might have something to do with Gordon having Asperger’s Syndrome, an extremely high-functioning form of autism.

Whatever the reason for his resistance to needing to feed on humans, Gordon had been a boon to Freetown.  Incredibly intelligent, he had come up with faster and better ways to render animal fat into the fuel that powered the generators.  He’d revamped their irrigation and sewage systems to near pre-Pyramid convenience.  He’d even rigged motion detectors that could alert the town to roaming Old Ones half a mile away.  The man was an engineering genius, and he’d turned Freetown from a ragged collection of militant survivors into an actual civilization again.

Carli greeted him with a mix of sadness and genuine delight.  “Hi Gordon, how are you?”

He gave her a mostly gummy smile, his eyes looking slightly over her shoulder.  Like many aspies, as he termed people with his condition, he found looking people in the eyes uncomfortable.  A marked lack of social niceties seemed to be the main symptom of Gordon’s otherwise amazing brain wiring.

He answered her question with clipped words, almost as if irritated.  “Good.  Respectable hunting tonight.”  Gordon opened his mouth as if to say something else, and then shut it again.  His pincers flapped a couple of times and he shrugged.

As brilliant as Gordon was with putting things together and making them run with amazing efficiency, he was always at a loss when it came to simple conversation.  Carli and Leo waited patiently as he struggled to put his thoughts into coherent sentences.  He’d once told them, “I can hear the words in my head, but it’s like they get stuck on their way to my mouth.  And when I do spit them out, they don’t always come out the way I intended.”

So they sat, smiled encouragingly, and watched him struggle with the nemesis of verbal communication.  Finally his thoughts burst out, the words spraying like bullets.  “Where’s Jeff?  Did you see him come in?  I can’t find him.”

Leo was very still next to Carli.  She was careful to keep her expression neutral, knowing even though Gordon wouldn’t look her in the face, he had her in his peripheral vision.  “He’s not back yet?” she asked.

Gordon shook his head.  “No, or I wouldn’t be asking.  The sun will rise soon, you know.”  He clacked like an Old One with worry and flapped his pincers again.

Jeff Tupper was even further along in the Becoming, nearly a pure Old One.  He’d begun losing his temper regularly as of late.  His abrupt rages spurred the other Becomings to get him out of Freetown as soon as night fell, sending Jeff into the desert to hunt animals for calming blood.  Since Gordon was the next most advanced in transformation, he and Jeff had formed a bond despite Gordon’s social hang ups.

“Everyone else got in half an hour ago,” Gordon continued.  He seemed to notice he was flapping, a tic he exhibited when he was stressed.  He stopped, clenched his pincers together, and glanced briefly at Carli’s face.  “You don’t think he would have … you know.  Left for good?”

Leo took a breath.  His voice heavy, he answered, “It’s been known to happen.  When the bloodlust makes the Becomings dangerous to us, they usually take themselves as far away as they can get.”

“Or expose themselves to the sun.”  Gordon shuddered.  Sunlight was lethal to the Becomings about halfway through their transformation.  It was painful long before it became deadly.  Giving oneself to the sun was a brutal way to end a Becoming’s life.  Most didn’t have the ability to face such sacrifice.  “I’ll have one more look around, and then I’ll retire for the day.  If you see Jeff, tell him to wake me up to let me know he’s okay.”

Gordon’s words came out as a barked order, though he was making a request.  Many who hadn’t gotten to know him well thought he was rude.  Tactless at the very least.  It made Carli wonder how he’d gotten along in normal society before the world went to hell.

“We’ll be sure to tell him.”  Carli swallowed.  “Have a good rest, Gordon.”

He nodded and left, his light step tapping away down the hall.  Then his footfalls reversed course, returning until he shoved his barely human face through the doorway. 

“I meant to say please and to thank you for keeping an eye out for Jeff.  Sorry.”

“It’s not a problem, Gordon,” Leo said softly.  “Get to safety before the sun rises.”


When the footfalls had receded into silence, Carli leaned her forehead against Leo’s chest.  “I hate lying to him of all people.”

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday – Willow in the Desert

Carli blew out a breath.  “I’ve been having nightmares that may or may not be connected to the situation,” she admitted, her teeth gritting at the failure of her ability.  “Vision questing has gotten us nowhere lately.”
“You’ve been blocked before,” Elijah said to Leo.  “Back before you and Carli got together.”
            “But we’ve never drawn blanks since we met,” the Crow pointed out. 
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Friday, December 28, 2012

First Five Friday – Countdown to Willow in the Desert – One Week Away!

Chapter 8

Gordon was patrolling again, checking on his fellow Becomings along the west fence.  As he neared the gate, it slid open far enough to let a camouflage-clad man out.  He wasn’t wearing his turquoise bracelet tonight, so at first Gordon didn’t recognize him.  As Gordon cast about in his brilliant but face-blind brain for the other man’s name, the soldier gave him a smile.
“Hey, Gordon.  Doing okay?”

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday – Lilith

“Everyone who previously faced Lilith died while doing battle.  Hutchins must have had some sort of knowledge or power that no one before her possessed.  But I have no idea what because the damned file doesn't tell me anything!”
            Alex scowled at her reflection on the computer monitor.  “Do you think the Segreto had something to hide back then?  What could be so terrible?”

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Friday, December 21, 2012

First Five Friday – Willow in the Desert

The recon team made good time, and it was still dark on the second night when they caught sight of Gander’s Gulch.  Its surrounding chain link fence reached high, about twenty feet.  Concertina wire capped it off like a maximum security prison.  The equally high wooden gate wasn’t nearly as sturdy as Freetown’s steel, and it required manual opening and closing.  It was forbidding just the same.

Available January 4

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday – Willow in the Desert

Leo rubbed his eyes.  He hadn’t slept well the night before while Carli had tossed and turned beside him, but she suspected it was this new development that made him look so weary.   They’d been battling aliens a long time, and it demoralized everyone at some point.  Stoic Leo may have finally reached his limit.
He said to Arner, “Your choice of words brings up another worry for me.  Can these things breed?”
Releasing January 4 

Friday, December 14, 2012

First Four Friday – The Willow and the Stone

Chapter 17 

            Renee sensed herself waking and fought to stay unconscious.   She never wanted to wake again.  She longed to die.  She’d present her immortal soul on a silver platter to Satan himself to escape the hell she'd discovered in this nightmare world. 

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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - The Willow and the Stone

            A waving flash of white diverted her delighted gaze.  Her smile faded as she noted a cut of white material that hung from the pole at the edge of the cornfield.
            "Do you see that?"
            Dawn squinted, her eyes running like faucets from the stinging wind.  She shuddered, but Carli doubted she reacted to the cold.  "Imagine those monsters being so close while we were sleeping last night.” 
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Friday, December 7, 2012

First Five Friday – The Prophet and the Crown II: Descent

            Jordan had the sweetest, piping voice Owen had ever heard, but it devolved into a discordant screech when he told them he was leaving to go to Zachary’s funeral. 
            “You can’t go!  We need you here,” the little girl protested, her big blue eyes already welling with tears. 
            Her distress ripped at his heart.  It didn’t help that Owen completely agreed with Jordan that he had no business taking off on them like this. 


Release date not yet determined

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - The Prophet and the Crown 2: Descent (WIP)

            It’s all illusion.  It’s all a lie.  I’m going to wake up and none of these past weeks will have happened.  Zachary is still alive, I’m still in Athens, Georgia, and angels don’t walk the Earth, searching for prophets and crowns.
            But even closing his eyes tight, shaking his head, and breathing deep didn’t change things.  Owen opened his eyes and was still in a hospital in southern South Carolina, still staring down the hallway, still reeling from Zachary’s death. 

Release date not determined