Five To One in Summer of Lovecraft

Dark Regions Press is taking orders via Indiegogo for their summer offerings, among them Summer of Lovecraft, an anthology of 1960’s era cosmic horror, which features my latest offering, Five To One, a story about a student protest on the Miskatonic University campus that goes horribly awry.

Image may contain: 1 personI love these ‘decade’ books Brian Sammons and Glynn Owen Barrass put out (Atomic Age Cthulhu was the preceding book, and I think there are still rumblings about a 70’s era antho if this one works out).

Other stories include –

Night Trippers by Lois H. Gresh
Operation Alice by Pete Rawlik
The Summer of Love by C.J. Henderson
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Sullivan by Lee Clarke Zumpe
Dreamland by David Dunwoody
Lost In the Poppy-Fields of Flesh by Konstantine Paradias
Keeping the Faith by Sam (Samantha) Stone
Mud Men by Sean Hoade
Misconception by Jamie D. Jenkins
No Colors Anymore by Joe L. Murr
Shimmer and Sway by Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Short Wave by Stephen Mark Rainey
The Song that Crystal Sang by Tom Lynch
Through a Looking Glass Darkly by Glynn Owen Barrass and Brian M. Sammons
The Color from the Deep by William Meikle
The Long Fine Flash by Edward Morris
Just Another Afternoon in Arkham, Brought to You in Living Color by Mark McLaughlin and Michael Sheehan, Jr.
Crystal Blue Persuasion by Jeffrey Thomas

For Five To One, I knew right from the announcement that I wanted to do a student protest at MU, and tie in the Timothy Leary tune in drop out movement somehow. The turbulence spreading across American campuses in the 60’s was surely a thing MU would have experienced, and Arkham as a college town felt like an angle I hadn’t personally seen before.

I also played with the idea that a lot of the same family names would turn up again and again.

Here’s the opening…..

The jeep squealed to a stop at the south end of the Miskatonic University campus, just ahead of the National Guardsmen of Battery B of the 101st Field Artilley.

Lt. John Iwanicki watched the column of inky smoke rising from the west half of the quad.

He had done all he could to get away from Arkham, from a drunken, brutal father. Now here he was, back again, about to march on his old alma matter.

Iwanicki shaved twelve men off to hold back the pressing crowd gathered there so the rest of the men could pass through. It was a mix of camera-faced press and rubberneckers, with some campus administrators and students.

Past the dormitories and athletic fields the campus dipped into a grassy, tree-lined depression in which Armitage Commons was centrally located, with the administration building and lecture halls to the north, and various specialty buildings clustered all around. Down the hill, across the quad and to the west, the brick ROTC building was awash in streaming flame. The crowd of students held back a respective distance around the old bronze statue of Professor Armitage. A team of Arkham firefighters were bustling about their engine, attacking the fire with a deluge cannon to little effect.

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“Goddammit, the little shits used napalm,” Sgt. Pasternack said, snorting the air. “I can smell it. Don’t those dumbass yokels know water ain’t gonna put it out?”

Pasternack was a veteran of Korea who’d done two tours in Vietnam and then entered the Guard when a leg wound had kept him from re-upping for active duty again. He spent all his off time cussing at the rec room television. When the priests who had marched into the draft office in Catonsville and burned all the draft cards had been on the news last May, the MP’s had had to stop him from taking his .45 to the TV. He was a crew-cut John Wayne type, only a few outbursts shy of a Section 8.

Despite his leg, Pasternack scooped up his M1 and vaulted out of the jeep before it had completely stopped. He tucked the strap of his campaign hat under his boxy jaw and barked for the men to form up, pointing to the burning outbuilding and the multicolored cluster of young protestors. Orders were to make a buffer between the students and the firefighters.

Captain Bishop had issued twenty M-79 grenade launchers, and Iwanicki noticed Sgt. Pasternack pulling the men carrying those aside and forming a separate column to the right with a few riflemen.

He got out of the jeep and went over.

“What’s this, Sergeant?” he demanded.

“Just getting a jump on the secondary objective, El-tee,” he said.

“What secondary objective?”

“Once the fire’s out, the Captain’s gonna order us to kick those pinkos off campus. If we send the main body down,” he said, slashing a knife hand toward the flaming building, “we can maneuver a line of bloopers behind them up Garrison Street and down Church, using those trees and buildings as cover. We’ll have ‘em on two sides that way, and when the time comes, we can drive ‘em right back the way we came.”

There was no denying it was a solid plan, but Iwanicki didn’t fully trust Pasternack to initiate the push without busting heads. He was here to kick hippie ass. When they’d gotten Governor Sargent’s call last night he’d practically run ahead of the convoy all the way from Danvers.

Image result for 60s college protestsAbout five hundred students had walked out of class onto the MU quad yesterday afternoon waving the Youth International Party flag. The leader of the local Yippie movement, an Economics major named Daniel Elwood, had read a prepared speech condemning the Defense Department’s announcement that 24,000 troops were being recalled to Vietnam for involuntary second tours. They’d held a funeral for a copy of the Bill Of Rights and marched with the document pinned on a makeshift bier down to the Miskatonic River, burned it on the shore, and scattered the ashes.

Just Yippie posturing, really. They’d sung a few songs and dispersed to the local bars.

The trouble had started when drunk students and, Iwanicki thought quite possibly, a good deal of out of towners in for the protest, had stumbled out of the taverns and begun breaking shop windows and flinging beer bottles at squad cars.

The local police found themselves overwhelmed pretty quickly. The mayor had gotten the Governor on the line, and he had called them in to quell the whole shebang.

Of course Captain Bishop was back at the temporary command center at St. Stanislaus Church, ostensibly holding two squads in reserve to help the Arkham Police keep order in the town and to jump in if thing’s got hairy. He was a Cambridge-taught REMF, the son of the mayor of Deans Corners and a cunning draft dodger who wanted no part of this hornet’s nest, particularly with all the media attention.

Iwanicki was standing there with his hands on his belt looking down through the bare cherry trees at the crowd chanting “Pigs off campus” down on the Commons where he’d spent many lunch hours reading, when, as if out of memory, a familiar figure came rushing across the field with one of the men, Private Carter, in tow and looking flustered as the older man repeatedly slapped his hand away from his elbow.

The man was in his late sixties and dressed accordingly, with a long, aged face. Wisps of cobweb white hair clung to his balding head. He smiled a broad set of too-uniform teeth and held up one liver spotted hand.

Iwanicki found himself smiling too, for the man was his old psychology professor, ‘Old Wing’ Peaslee.

“John Iwanicki, is that you?” he called, slapping Private Carter’s hand away yet again.

“What the fuck is this, Carter?” Pasternack growled, taking a step forward to intercept the spry old man. “Can’t you keep an old man behind a goddamned line?”

“I’m sorry sir, he….”

“I was insistent,” Peaslee finished for the blushing young man. “Please excuse me. I recognized an old student and I just had to say hello.”

Pasternack reached out and grabbed the old man by his scarf, but he shrugged out of it with a mumbled ‘thank you,’ and put his hand out to Iwanicki, as he came on.

Peaslee had been a bit of an eccentric, known to go off on wild, sometimes strange tangents in his lectures, but he had always found the old man fascinating even in his most rambling pontifications. He had been friendly with Iwanicki’s Uncle Jim, the pastor at St. Stanislaus who had practically raised him after his father had stumbled out one morning and drowned himself in the Miskatonic. Peaslee and his uncle had been chess rivals, and his recommendation on Iwanicki’s application had gone a long way towards convincing Admissions to overlook his financial hardship.

“Hello, Professor,” Iwanicki smiled, taking the old man’s hand as Pasternack flung the scarf down in the grass and scowled behind his back. “I’m half surprised you’re not down there with the Yippies,” he said, nodding over his shoulder at the crowd singing down on the Commons.

“It’s them I’d like to speak with you about, if you can spare the time. I tried to see your commanding officer but was turned away.”

Sgt. Pasternack insinuated himself, cradling his M1.

“Lieutenant should I remove this civilian?” It was more of a suggestion than a query.

Maybe the presence of his old professor bolstered his confidence.

“No, Sergeant. Just wait over there a bit.”

“That fire crew’s looking kind of anxious, sir,” Pasternack insisted, not budging.

“You’re right,” he said. “I’ll tell you what. Take the men down there as we discussed. I want all weapons locked. Treat this like a peaceful demonstration, nothing to get excited about. Pass the word down the line.”

“Sir?”

“You said yourself the fire crew isn’t going to put out a napalm blaze the way they’re going. I want you down there advising them,” he said, squaring his shoulders at Pasternack. “Understood?”

“Yes sir,” Pasternack said, pursing his lips and looking like he’d like to take a bite out of his nose.

He wheeled and stabbed a finger at Carter.

“Get your ass in gear, Private.”

Iwanicki watched Pasternack holler orders at the men, and pretty soon they were marching down the hill through the rustling autumn leaves toward the fire.

The twenty men with grenade launchers watched them go, fidgeting.

“Listen, Professor,” Iwanicki said. “If you’re here to impress caution on me, believe me, I’m doing all I can.”

“I’m afraid it’s graver than that, John. Do you know who’s behind all this unrest?”

“Yeah, the administrators gave my CO a name. Elwood. Some student activist.”

“Mr. Elwood has organized much of the peaceful arm of the demonstrations, it’s true, but neither he nor any of his followers had anything to do with setting fire to the ROTC building.”

“Who did?”

“Have you ever heard of Traxton Olney?”

Iwanicki had read all about Olney in Time magazine. He had been a psychiatric researcher for the Kaiser Family Foundation and had spent a few years abroad in Cambodia, doing field work with some kind of entheogenic substance used in ritual worship by an obscure hill tribe; an hallucinogenic compound called Liao, which he claimed was more potent than LSD. Upon returning to the US he had worked under Timothy Leary at Harvard as part of their Psylocibin Project, but after falling out, he’d struck out on his own, championing the benefits of Liao over acid.

He had overseen a series of rehabilitation experiments with Liao on Arkham Sanitarium patients and achieved a good deal of success and attention in 1960 when he wrote a book called The New Lotus Eaters: Adventures In Supernautical Exploration, detailing his own use of the drug. He’d been in a tent at the big hippie gathering at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, hosting Liao ‘in-peditions.’

“Sure,” said Iwanicki. “The Liao guy. Wasn’t he lecturing here at MU a while back?”

“He was,” said Peaslee, his tone and demeanor darkening noticeably. “Just after you graduated in ’65. He was apprehended by campus security trying to abscond with a rare volume from the library’s reference collection and dismissed. He took some of his followers among the staff and student body and formed a kind of neo-pagan group. They set themselves up in a commune at a certain cottage overlooking Olney’s native Kingsport. They call themselves NASA. Nedon’s Astral and Supernautics Amalgam.”

“Nee-don?”

“Olney claims it’s the name of their spiritual guide.”

“So what does Olney have to do with all this?” he asked impatiently.

Over Peaslee’s shoulder, he saw the line of soldiers tramping down to the fire, helmets and muzzles bobbing. The students were recoiling as though they were one organism reacting to the introduction of a foreign virus.

“While he was employed here, Olney professed some rather radical notions,” Peaslee said. “He believes in sharing the dreams of the Black Lotus with mankind whether they are receptive to it or no. During one of his lectures he exposed his students to Liao fumes to observe the results. Thankfully none of the class pressed charges. Most wound up joining him.”

“You said you knew who started the fire,” said Iwanicki. “Are you saying it was Olney?”

“I saw him myself early this morning, along with some of his followers, loitering about the quad, very near the ROTC building before it caught fire.”

“You’re sure?”

“Yes,” said Peaslee. “I saw him clearly from the window of my office. By the time I came downstairs, the fire had already started. I have no doubt it is a distraction, meant to keep your soldiers occupied.”

“What do you think he intends?”

——————————–

Kick a buck here – https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/horror-summer-sale-2019-from-dark-regions-press?fbclid=IwAR0_aVJlP3hpNQAYb9lVUju5ka6un2MncEWrHUs7BALtr7UMz_BC6TbybMk#/

 

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M. Wayne Miller’s Interior Art for Merkabah Rider 3: Have Glyphs Will Travel

While I’m plugging away at my John Conquer novel and trying to sell this weird western wuxia book, I thought I’d pop in here and show you guys one of the pieces M. Wayne Miller did for the interior of the forthcoming Merkabah Rider: Have Glyphs Will Travel, which ought to be out in a month.

Here’s a look at the art for The Mules of The Mazzikim, which features Lilith and her boys come to pay The Rider a visit.

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Published in: on July 11, 2019 at 10:39 am  Leave a Comment  
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Cover Art for Merkabah Rider 3

Hey all, just popping in to give you an advance look at Juri Umagami’s cover art for Merkabah Rider: Have Glyphs Will Travel, the third book in the reissue of the series.  As with the other covers’ homages to classic westerns, I asked her to base it on the famous promo still of Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. Back in eighth grade my parents and I took our first trip out to California and stopped by Madame Tussaud’s wax museum, where they had one of those gag photo booths at the back end. They superimposed my face on Paul Newman’s body and my dad’s on Robert Redford’s. I guess I’ve always had a soft spot for this pic since then, and I’m happy to see it here.

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A Stroke Of Lightning In The Pulp Horror Book of Phobias from LVP!

Lycan Valley Publications is set to release their new anthology The Pulp Horror Book of Phobias, edited by MJ Sydney, with interior illustrations by Luke Spooner and a cover from Kealan Patrick Burke.

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From the publisher:

Phobias are defined as an irrational and extreme fear to something. It could be anything as long as it causes an intense and debilitating fear.

What happens when these irrational fears/phobias become reality? When the irrational becomes rational and there’s a reason to be scared? Find out in The Pulp Horror Book of Phobias.

We’ve created an A to Z phobia list and elevated each one to a new level of fear. These stories come to life in ways that will make you want to sleep with the light on, double check the locks on your door, and think twice before dismissing your fear as irrational.

A — A TOUCH OF MADNESS — Tim Waggoner
B — IT CAME FROM THE GRAVE — James Pyne
C — ENTWINED — Colleen Anderson
D — DESTINY’S ROAD TRIP — Jay Troy Seate
E — MORBID DREAD OF THE DAWN — Philip Athans
F — MUTUAL POSSESSION — WT Paterson
G — RIGHT OF CROSSING — James Chambers
H — PASSING JUDGEMENT — Chad Lutzke
I — THE CLINIC — Asher Ellis
J — NOT JUST DESSERTS — Jonah Buck
K — THE MAN WHO FEARED THE SKY — John Skipp
L — CHILDREN OF BLOOD — Greg Chapman
M — THE YEARNING JADE — Hank Schwaeble
N — THE CEMETERY MAN — JG Faherty
O — WHITE TO BLACK — Michael Bailey
P — THE HUNCH — Richard Chizmar
Q — FIVE IN THE SIX — Sephera Giron
R — THE TOXIC MAGICIAN — Sheri Sebastian-Gabriel
S — FEEDING THE ORISHAS — Gabino Iglesias
T — MUNCHAUSEN — Max Booth III
U — TRUE CONFESSIONS OF THE HAPPIEST PISTACHIO — Mehitobel Wilson
V — BEAUTIFUL WOMEN — Ray Garton
W — A BOLT OF LIGHTNING — Edward M. Erdelac
X — HALFPENNY — Steven M. Vance
Y — TOO HOT IN BOILERTOWN — Jill-Hand
Z — THE CATALYST TO GROW SOME GUTS — Kerry Lipp

My contribution, A Stroke Of Lightning (a nod to Ray Bradbury’s ‘A Sound of Thunder’), follows a grad student buried under a mountain of debt seduced by a fantastically wealthy entrepreneur into participating in a radical time travel engineering project and explores the niggling fear of such an endeavor actually coming to fruition, with all its attendant ramifications.

Here’s an excerpt:

On Thursday, November 16, 2018, Martin Emmet finally solved the equation that would make time travel possible.

But he didn’t share it with anybody.

He’d been a twenty four year old physicist at Berkely finishing up a doctorate with a pending application at CERN when the wild-haired, white bearded Dr. Gavan Columbarius had burst into his lab like some eccentric Gandalf in tweed and scuffed Oxfords firing off a volley of rapid-fire questions about altering the mass and gravity of harnessed microsingularities utilizing a hypothetical electron injection manifold.

Martin had been amused and played along, thinking the bizarre old man part of some prank put on by his colleagues. After some engaging back and forth, Columbarius had pushed a plain business card into his hand and offered him a place on an independent research team in Chicago for five times what CERN was paying.

Skeptical, Martin had shown Columbarius’ card around Berkely.

“Sure, Columbarius,” said one of his colleagues, looking over the business card. “The guy’s some kind of independently wealthy nutjob. Got booted from, I think it was UIC particle physics, years ago. What he does, he insinuates himself into the lives of exceptional young scientists and coaxes them from legitimate avenues of study into his crazy pseudo-scientific experiments. He’s a good way to make a quick buck, if you’re not above bilking a senile old crackpot.” He’d handed the card back.  “Ask one of the professors.”

He had.

“A scientific Bluebeard,” said his instructor, rather over dramatically, Martin thought. “That old man’s a serial killer of reputations. He baits gullible theorists struggling under college debt with dollar signs and then strangles their best years with his dead-end navel gazing projects. If you’re smart, you’ll forget about him.”

Neither of them knew exactly what his projects were, however, because upon further questioning, both had admitted that they’d actually never been personally approached by Columbarius.

The man was eccentric, sure. Martin had pegged him as that from the first, unexpected meeting. But despite his perpetually frazzled appearance and his unsavory reputation, Columbarius had known what he was talking about, which was not something Martin could say a hundred percent of the time about his peers.

And there had been the money.

Martin had more than student loans to worry over. Jay, his eight year old kid brother, had terminal cancer and his mother was struggling to ease the boy out of this life as smoothly as possible on a substitute teacher’s wages. Chemotherapy, nurse visits, escalating medical bills, maybe Columbarius wasn’t as prestigious as CERN, but he could wipe a good portion of that worry away. It would mean leaving behind steady employment and cutting short his studies, but after his brother Jay died he could always return, and debt free.

The next time he took Columbarius’ card out of his wallet, it was to call and accept the position in Chicago.

Columbarius’ lab was located in a palatial house on Sheridan Road in Kenilworth, a wealthy North Shore village bordering Lake Michigan, about a half hour north of the city proper.

Columbarius had introduced him to the rest of the team, which read like a list of Bermuda triangle victims. They were respected names who had mysteriously dropped out of the scientific community over the years.  David Eccleston, applied lasers, from Princeton, nuclear physicist Anna Wells from Stanford, Taniguchi, the genius engineer and designer from the frontier sciences department at University of Tokyo, a few others. All of them had been lured to Columbarius by money, though, he found, they universally asserted that they had stayed for the stimulating nature of the work.

And what was the purpose of that work?

“A time machine,” Columbarius had told him in his rich, wood paneled office looking out on the lake after Martin had made the rounds, seen the extensive research lab, and settled in the leather chair before the old oak desk. “Specifically, a temporal tunnel generator, a projector, utilizing elements of the Tipler cylinder theory. I’m calling it a Merlin Tunnel. It’s the right of the man with the money to slap a name on the end product, and it’s so much less of a mouthful than Columbarius Tunnel, don’t you think? Have you ever heard of the Garden of Joy? It’s from Arthuriana, a magical forest planted by the wizard Merlin. Via the Garden, one could step through a hedge and emerge in any forest in the world. That’s what we’re building here, really. A time travel station. A hub that will allow us to pass through any point in time. “

Martin had chuckled, but the old man had met that response without a hint of mirth.

“Stop there,” Columbarius warned, holding up one hand. “We’re in the latter stages of producing a working protoype, Mr. Emmett.  What we need help with is building a computer that can calculate gravitational field fluctuations and make corrective spatial navigational decisions instantly. Time can be traversed, but we have to account for the movement of planetary bodies, else our first chrononaut will step out of the Merlin Tunnel into a space along our planet’s orbit which the earth unfortunately no longer occupies. It would be like jumping from a bridge onto a moving train after it’s already passed.  I’ve enlisted you to work in tandem with Dr. Taniguchi in fine tuning a gravity sensor of his design. I’ll also ask you to assist from time to time in contributing calculations to the development of that manifold we spoke of on our first meeting.”

Martin had stifled his instinct to grin, remembering what they’d said about Columbarius at Berkely. This was how he was going to earn the money to help his kid brother.

“That’s….a lot of variance in work,” he managed.

“I believe you’re capable of it,” Columbarius said, “and I’m paying you a great deal. You may live here at my estate. A suite’s been prepared. If you find that disagreeable you may elect to stay elsewhere nearby and I will send a car for you each day, but I will deduct your rent from your pay accordingly. Do you need to make any arrangements for direct deposit or anything like that?”

“Well,” Martin had said, “I would like to have a percentage diverted to my family back home.”

“Of course. Biola, California, isn’t it?”

Martin hadn’t bothered asking him where he’d found that out. Any reasonably proficient web surfer could have learned that in five minutes.

He had nodded.

“I’ll have someone take your bank information.  Are you ready to get to work?”

Really, he hadn’t expected much from the work. He’d imagined the other researchers were daily engaged in a high stakes game of a distraction to keep themselves on staff, a long running con. He expected humoring Columbarius would be challenging given the old man’s learning, but ultimately it would be possible to drag the project out indefinitely given the extent of his delusion. He had already spent millions of dollars outfitting and staffing a state of the art facility dedicated to his obsession, after all.

Time travel.

But after a few days working with the team, Martin had realized they weren’t just taking advantage of the old man’s limitless resources. They were all quite sincere.

And more, they truly were working towards a real breakthrough.

It seemed fantastic at first, but the proof was there. The calculations were solid, the engineering radical but sound.

Eccleston proudly demonstrated an elaborate emitter that could project a focused, visible blue beam at the lab’s mascot, a white rat called Dorian. At first the beam appeared to disintegrate Dorian, then, miraculously, reconstitute him. But a second look at the process via video played back at a slower speed showed the rat aging rapidly to the point of death and decomposition, and then, somehow, reversing its course, flesh and fur regenerating at an astounding rate.

“We can even make him younger,” Eccleston had said proudly. “This is just an offshoot of our research. We only threw it together to impress the noobs. We’re calling it a Chronal Pulse Ray till we can come up with an acronym that won’t be confused with Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation.”

Martin had come away more than impressed.

He’d come away terrified.

Pick it up here!
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1645629511/

An Inner Darkness Kickstarter: Last Chance!

Hey gang, Oscar Rios, Brian Sammons and Golden Goblin Press have put together another winning Lovecraftian anthology, An Inner Darkness, centered around social injustice in the 1920’s with a dash of cosmic dread. My own offering, By Unknown Hands, sees an unscrupulous conman murdering Osage Indians for their oil headrights in Oklahoma. He gets more than he bargained for when he targets a reclusive Osage woman….the anthology is a mere eight hundred bucks away from happening, so if you’re reading this, head over here and kick a buck as we’re in the final two hours.

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Here’s a taste of By Unknown Hands….
I never set out to kill no Indians. It was just something I fell into.
After the war, I came back to Tulsa County to find my old maw dead and gone, and our Sooner land sold off to the oil company. I don’t know who they paid for it, but it wasn’t me. The house was just gone, which explains why none of my letters were ever answered.
I worked for a while as a wildcatter, but that got to feeling too much like being back in the Army. Most jobs did, when you got right down to it. I had brought home a deep unease with me that I just couldn’t shed. Thunder made me jump inside, and open spaces made me fret. I had little patience for men, women, and beasts. Though I had cropped my hair short since I was a boy, it was like somehow they could smell the Indian in me. Maybe it was all that sun from working outside. I left a lot of them bleeding.
In late summer ’21 I drifted west, headed for California, but got tripped up by the Osage Hills and wound up on a ranch on the west edge of the big Indian reservation, manning a 500 gallon copper still for a fellow named Henry Grammer, the world steer roping champion and the biggest bootlegger around.
There were some rough customers among Grammer’s bunch, many who had been bank and train robbers in their day.
One of them, a wind-burned older fellow with nickel blue eyes and an easy manner named Casey Matheson approached me one day while I sat smoking under the blackjack.
“Where are you from, boy?” he asked.
“Berryhill,” I answered, “and leave out that ‘boy’ talk.”
There was threat in that, but he didn’t seem to mind.
“You ain’t no moonshiner,” he went on. “What’d you do before?”
“All kinds of things.”
“You was in the Army though.”
“How’d you know that?”
“You just got that look about you. Makin’ shine don’t fit your pistol, does it?”
“Nothing much does anymore,” I said, tossing my butt away.
“I bet you don’t like sleepin’ in that bunkhouse neither.”
All Grammer’s employees slept in the ranch bunkhouse off the main house, cowboy and moonshiner alike. It was drafty, and the Negro handyman was stingy with caulk, boards, and nails.
“You see that car over there?” Casey said, pointing to a grey Bearcat I had seen about the place once in a while. “That’s a thirty nine hundred dollar automobile, and I got it for a day’s work.”
“Running shine?”
He laughed.
“Hell no. Killin’ Indians.”
He watched me for a minute, gauging my reaction. I tensed for a fight, but said nothing.
“You know how to drive?” he asked.
I did.
“You wanna take a ride?”
It beat squatting over the still.
My hands shuddered on the wheel till we left the gravel drive behind and hit the pavement. I opened her up and whipped those 6-cylinders to galloping, leaving the blackjack hills behind. I hadn’t moved this fast in years. The wind blew over me, roaring in my ears, and those big empty plains of bluestem and spiderwort flew past. I lost my hat, but I didn’t care.
After a bit, Casey waved for me to pull over so he could be heard.
He lit a cigarette, offered me one. I saw he was missing the last two fingers on his left hand.
“Meanin’ no offense, but you got some Indian in you, don’t you?”
I took the cigarette, stared at him. I had a great-grandfather on my mother’s side who was Choctaw.
“Berryhill,” the old man mused, when I didn’t say anything. “What’re you? Quarter Cherokee?”
“Eighth Choc,” I allowed, waiting to see if I’d have to lay him out.
He nodded and waved his cigarette across the big empty prairie, trailing smoke.
“We’re on the Osage reservation now. You notice anything?”
I put my foot on the running board and looked. I could see far, to the towns northeast; to Fairfax and Grey Horse. In between were clunking derricks, laboring like giant metal picks rising and falling on the earth.
“Just oil.”

“That’s right,” said Casey, grinning. “That’s sharp. Most folks’d say ‘nothing.’ Government shuffled these Indians around, stuck ‘em on the barest, rockiest patch of nothing they could find. Only they didn’t figure on what was underneath it. Devil’s tar. Lakes and lakes of it. The Underground Reservation. And the lawyers fixed it so every full-blooded member of the Osage tribe got headrights. Six hundred and fifty seven acres, every man, woman, and child, and mineral rights for leasin’ to the oil companies.” He spat. “Devil must’ve been runnin’ the government back then. Come on, Buckwheat, let’s go into Pawhuska. I wanna show you something….”

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An Update: I just got word that this project funded! Thanks to all who supported it. I’ll have a link up to the actual anthology as soon as it becomes available, so watch this space. Ia! Ia!
Published in: on April 14, 2019 at 6:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Blueshift Drive in Transmissions From Punktown

Dark Regions Press has released a new anthology of stories set in the neon-lit avenues of Jeffrey Thomas’ wildly imaginative futuristic megalopolis Punktown, where a dizzying array of extraterrestrial and extra-dimensional species co-mingle and sometimes collide.

Edited by the ever-lovin’ Brian Sammons, this whopping, worthy TOC is as diverse as a street corner in downtown Paxton.

“Dreaming the City” – Jeffrey Thomas
“The Cyclops: Part One” – Jeffrey Thomas
“The Dilky Never Landed” – Paul Tremblay
“Bedbug Radio” – Ian Rogers
“Ring, Ring, Ring, Ring, Ring, Ring, Ring” – Nick Mamatas
“Growth Spurt” – Richard Lee Byers
“Novah On The Run (Her Blue Monday)” – Glynn Owen Barrass
“Ritual of Adoration” – W.H. Pugmire
“The Over and Under” – D.A. Madigan
“Lacunae and Nocturnes” – William Meikle
“Riding the Rainbow” – Don Webb
“Not For Human Consumption” – Peter Rawlik
“Sunup Over Misery Street” – Konstantine Paradias
“Aftermath of an Industrial Accident” – Mike Allen
“Less, Then Zero” – Jeff C. Carter
“Baphomet Descendent” – Scott R. Jones
“Crow-picked” – Christine Morgan
“The Monochromatic Betrayal of Frank Xerox” – Neil Baker
“Ksenija’s Pirate Prince” – Lee Clark Zumpe
“The Cherry” – Tom Lynch
“Payment for a Scar” – Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.
“The Extremities of Godfrey Aquinas” – Michael Griffin
“The Cyclops: Part Two” – Jeffrey Thomas

I’m pleased to announce I managed to land a story in these pages too. It’s called Blueshift Drive, and relates the story of a pair of clones’ enacting revenge on an old enemy via a dangerous cross-city helicar race, the Peace Cross. I had a great time writing this one. You’ll note maybe, in this excerpt, the brand of the main character’s ride, a nod to one of my favorite ‘race’ movies, Ben-Hur.

The streets of Punktown were a blast to poke around in, and I have to here thank Brian and Jeffrey for letting me in the city limits.

Anyway, check out the excerpt after taking a gander at Aeron Alfrey’s cover, rendered in glorious shran.

Image result for transmissions from punktown
Gotheo Repass brought the bright orange Boyd-Heston LIX through the heavy plume of industrial smoke that billowed from the Sensamill Textile stacks and eased the helicar into a slow 360 degree descent, letting the gaggle of onlookers, but especially the drivers of the seven helicars parked in the wide street below get a good, lingering look at his flashing silver quad rotors and chromed-out repulsor emitters as they fired alternately, responding to the micro-corrections of his deft hand.

More than half the streetlamps in Warehouse Way were on the blink, so this strip of street was an oasis of light in the dangerous dark otherwise illuminated intermittently by flickering lights and trashcan fires. Nobody parked a helicar in this neighborhood, at least, not for long.

Gotheo fired the ground repulsors to scatter the upturned faces below, red-lit by his landing lights, and set neatly down in place between a trim Delaney Rapidité with a mirror-sheen finish as upscale as its shapely blonde, silver-clad driver, and a sunflower yellow Miniosis Motors Hyper Coupe Deportes with purple Forma Street Shifters decals.

He revved the big engine a few times, letting those inclined to listen hear the thrum of the gut-quaking quad drivers, watching his lucky plastic Raloom bobblehead tremble in ecstasy on the dashboard. He peered through his one-way windscreen at the gathering Punktowners drawing near. They were a mix of shabby Tin Town muties in their Saturday night best, bleary-eyed Warehouse Way cast-offs, inscrutable offworlders, and earthers in pastel active wear with elaborate hair; the typical weekend backstreet race crowd. He saw a flock of gently whirring, floating iBall cameras too; that was how the big money kept an eye on their wagers.

He picked out a face he knew; Archez Bolan, a black skinned, seven foot tall slab of Keezee muscle, the personal driver and bodyguard of Wagney Cogswendt, CEO of Allavanchetti Consumer Products, makers of the most popular brand of anti-ad spray on the market. Archez had the hood of his black Gibsller 79 propped open, showing off the massive blower to the heli-heads crowding around. He let it drop and stared at the newcomer with his beady doll eyes, the ends of his wide, shark toothed jaws turned down in disapproval.

The platinum blonde earther in the expensive, form-fitting silver drivers’ jumpsuit unzipped to reveal a V of skin down to her waist, leaned over to peer into his passenger window. Though he was pretty sure she couldn’t see in, you never could tell with the advances in artificial eye tech. She had narrow, slanting eyes. Gotheo appreciated the generous view of her plunging cleavage the attitude of her body afforded, right down to the pink jeweled stud in her flat belly. She had a wide face, high cheekbones, and wild, excessively curly hair, like soap bubbles.

“Somethin’ about that girl,” Tertius muttered in his ear via their link.

“I hear ya,” Gotheo murmured.

Archez had sauntered over to the driver’s side of the car. He rapped the back of his tremendous knuckles on the glass.

Gotheo undid his harness.

Archez took a step back as the gull-wing door lifted. Gotheo stepped out beneath the buzzing streetlights, the heli-heads shuffling closer to get a look at him, as if he were a celebrity at a VT gala emerging from a stretch hoverlimo.

As intimidating as that oblong maw of sharp teeth was, Archez could barely part his black lips. There was a chrome plated ornamented translator dangling from a thick gold chain between his bulging pectorals, and the type of rock bottom voice you’d expect to come out of a giant like this came earthshakingly loud through the silver mesh of the speaker, making Gotheo wince. The chip that detected inflection in the translator had correctly deduced the Keezee’s intent to intimidate and raised the volume accordingly.

“This spot’s reserved, hotshot. You best take your daddy’s car back to Beaumonde Square before somebody shoots their name in the side of it.”

“I heard there was a race about to kick off,” Gotheo said with a smirk, keeping his chin to his chest, the hood of his jacket up.

“If there was,” Archez said, tensing his massive shoulders, “you best believe it ain’t open to no live-large, trust fund booshi out cruisin’ for Lobu poon.”

“Oh so what, it’s invitation only?” Gotheo said, taking off his hood.

The Keezee turned his head sideways twice, to get a good look at him with both eyes, the silver beads in his long hair clacking and catching the light.

“Smiley?”

Gotheo let his wide, ear to ear Choom grin split his own face.

“In the flesh.”

A good facsimile of boisterous laughter crackled out of the translator substantially lower in volume. Gotheo found himself hoisted up in the Keezee’s arms in an embrace that made his eyes water.

Behind Archez, the segmented spiral door of the yellow Deportes clacked open and the squat, beetle-like driver slithered out, six jointed appendages lifting it from the car, the alien head cocking and clicking its mandibles in Coleopterid surprise.

All Bedbugs looked alike to most people, but Gotheo knew by the red plastic grips of the two .340 Decimators strapped under his topmost arms that this had to be Chitterdet Chikktarn, a lieutenant of the Forma Street Shifters gang, whose car was paid for with munit he earned slinging Purple Vortex to the Bliss who frequented the races.

“Hey CC,” Gotheo grunted over Archez’s shoulder. “What’s the word?”

“Resurrection, Smiley,” rasped the Bedbug. “Ain’t seen your big ugly grin on the streets in cycles.”

“Yeah, what’s up with that, Choom?” Archez said, letting Gotheo breathe. “Last time I saw you was in that run with Devilsperm….blast, two years ago. I heard you got outta traction but you was brushin’ up on pinecones.”

‘Brushing up on pinecones’ was street talk. Nobody on Oasis knew what a pinecone was, but inmates of the Paxton Maximum Security Prison soon learned because the building’s architecture was adorned with carvings of them for some reason. In the years you spent staring at the strange things, you invariably asked somebody what they were.

“I did my time,” Gotheo said, shrugging, his hands in his pockets, “got out. I been drivin’ a hoverhack the past year.”

“Where’d you get the munits for this chariot?” CC asked, coming over to run four clicking appendages appreciatively down the aerodynamic orange hood of the Boyd-Heston.

“Lots of overtime,” Gotheo said, drawing his wide mouth closed in a tight, broad smile.

“Blast,” CC chittered. “Looks like I’m in the wrong line of work.”

“You must be the mystery man,” said a clear-as-ice water woman’s voice.

The blonde in silver had one rounded hip against his rear quarter panel, and was sizing him up.

She came closer, hips rolling, eyes never leaving him. She was the kind of woman he’d consider having his jaws reduced for. Sometimes earther girls were put off by Chooms. This one didn’t seem to be. Her skin was clean and unmarked, perfect, like it’d never known a blemish or a scar. She had one of those tiny bow mouths he found so exotic in earthers.

“I heard we had a late entry.”

She stopped a couple inches from him and folded her slender arms. Gotheo couldn’t tell one flower from the next but he suspected her scent would’ve impressed a connoisseur . The smell of her made him think of clean, soft bedsheets and pricey liquor.

“Won’t you introduce us, Archez?” There was a twinge to her accent he couldn’t place, never having been anywhere.

Her eyes were violet. He wondered again if they were real.

“Smiley Repass, Ms. Amiya Tadakamensch.”

Miz? That was a weird bit of decorum for Archez. Gotheo noticed he’d stiffened at her approach too, like his boss had come around.

“Oh, the one that put his helicar through the dome of the Canberra Mall a couple years ago. Do me a favor and stay away from me up there.”

Anybody else had said that to him, they would’ve been in the middle of the street. The way she said it though, he didn’t mind so much.  The jewel in her belly twinkled, a pink star.

“You won’t have to worry about that, baby,” Gotheo said. “You won’t see anything of me except my taillights.”

She smiled at that. It was the kind of clean smile they put on holo ads.

She turned in place, giving him the same view he’d given the crowd of his car. She sashayed back to her car.

“Maybe that’s the best side to see,” she called.

Pick up Transmissions From Punktown here –

Whisperworld and My Guide To RPG Storytelling Is On Sale

Two other books of interest on sale this December –

First up is Whisperworld from Erica Lindquist and Aron Christensen…

The Wrath of God destroyed the old world and what’s left of humanity huddles in the shadows of the Tears, strange black spheres that protect the last cities from the storms. No one knows what they are or how they work, but if you listen, you can hear them whispering… But now the spheres are failing, falling silent.

When one of the Gardeners who protect and maintain the Tears is murdered, Julia and her partner, Zach, are summoned to find out why. Their search for a killer will take them from Angel City’s crumbling skyscrapers to the salt flats of the Pacific Desert.

But what they find goes far beyond murder, threatening to wipe out the last remnants of civilization. Perhaps they can save their city – but first they have to save themselves.

Check that out here –

The other, again from Aron Christensen, is My Guide To RPG Storyelling, a how-to style guide for creating NPC’s, planning games, and engaging tabletop players.

Both 99 cents. Jump on it!

Hit/Run in 18 Wheels Of Science Fiction from Big Time Books

Image result for 18 wheels of science fiction

Big Time Books and editor Eric Miller, publishers of the trucking anthology 18 Wheels of Horror, are rolling back your way with a new book, 18 Wheels of Science Fiction.

“18 Wheels of Science Fiction – a Long Haul into the Fantastic” contains 18 short stories, all set in the trucking universe. The visionary writers in this new volume from Big Time Books deliver stories about rogue self-driving trucks, wormholes through spacetime, cyborg drivers, the eternal loneliness of life on the road, and more speculative tales. It is the follow-up to the hit anthology “18 Wheels of Horror.”

They’ll be kicking off with a mass signing at Dark Delicacies in Burbank, and I’ll be there, along with Eric Miller, and writers John DeChancie, Gary Phillips, Lisa Morton, Del Howison, Paul Carlson, Kate Jonez, Michael Paul Gonzalez, Janet Joyce Holden, Sean Patrick Traver, Jeff Seeman, Carla Robinson, and Lucio Rodriguez. Special guests Steven and Leya Booth from Genius Book Services, and possible late appearances by cover artist Brad Fraunfelter and writer Alvaro Zinos-Amaro.

That’s at Dark Delicacies  3512 W. Magnolia Blvd. Burbank, CA  91505 818-556-6660 on Sunday, November 4th from 4-6 pm.

My story Hit/Run involves, as you might guess, a driver who perpetrates and then flees the scene of a late night collision, only to find himself pursued at a truck stop by a pair of mysterious figures.

Here’s an excerpt –
Image result for 18 wheeler at night

THE SOUND OF A STOLEN KISS of metal going down the I-10 West at 90mph was preceded by the high-pitched beeping of collision warnings, the roar of the air horn, and the shriek of tires. The collision was inevitable though, unavoidable.

The station wagon had been parked on the highway median strip on the left side of the road, an inadvisable place to pull over on a dark night. The taillights had winked on suddenly like the eyes of a predator springing from a dark bush, and before Matt could recognize the other driver’s intent, the car had pulled right into his path and gunned its engine, attempting to beat his 18 wheeler. Coming from a dead stop it had no more chance of doing that than Matt had of avoiding it.

The truck hit the right quarter panel and sent the station wagon spinning wildly off into the night like a swatted fly, the headlights and taillights flashing intermittently. It left the road and tumbled into the shallow gully off the right-hand shoulder.

The car’s horn, which the driver had not thought to use before, now blared insistently, unbroken, a prolonged wail receding as Matt pulled past. A trail of broken glass marked its passage across the black-streaked highway, glowing like bits of red rock candy in his taillights. The headlights, one atop the other, shined feebly from the depression beside the road.

Matt slowed, and started to switch to the emergency band.

There was no one else on the road in either direction. It was two-thirty in the morning. He had opted to drive all night to make his drop off at seven AM in Bakersfield after a prolonged stop in Quartzsite for a blown tire had put him behind schedule.

This was not the first collision in his career. The rig had sustained minimal damage, but the other car looked bad. The plaintive blare of the horn wasn’t dwindling.

There’d be consequences from this one. He’d be grounded at least, maybe worse depending on the condition of the station wagon’s occupants. The driver, at least, was unconscious or immobilized. Had there been others in the car? Passengers shaken and smashed in their restraints? Children thrown about the interior or ejected into the desert?

But it hadn’t been his fault. The other driver had taken a stupid risk and put himself in jeopardy.

Matt made his decision.

Someone would come along soon and see the wreck.

Someone would come.

It hadn’t really been his fault, after all….

https://www.amazon.com/18-Wheels-Science-Fiction-Fantastic/dp/099068668X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1539365193&sr=8-1&keywords=18+wheels+of+science+fiction

Conquer Comes Correct in Occult Detective Quarterly Presents!

odqpOne of my favorite fiction periodicals Occult Detective Quarterly has put out a long form book, Occult Detective Quarterly Presents, and my street savvy 70’s occult/blaxploitation PI John Conquer is hitting the dark back alleys of Harlem again in Conquer Comes Correct.

A skinny gangbanger wanders into John’s dojo with news that an old friend has been murdered outside a Harlem bookstore, shot with an arrow. Soon after, Lt. Lou Lazzeroni asks Conquer for help figuring out how the carcass of a headless, skinned gorilla found its way into a Bronx intersection. Are the two cases related? You better believe it, baby.

ODQ Presents includes stories from Charles Rutledge, Amanda DeWees, and the ever lovin’ Willie Meikle, among others.

The idea for this one began with the offhanded mention of an actual headless, butchered gorilla found in the Bronx in the 70s in an article I read about the infamous 41st Police Preccint, AKA ‘Fort Apache.’

Here’s an excerpt:

Baba Ron Hamilton’s East Harlem Dojo, in the unwrought bottom floor of a townhouse on 125th street, dispensed the wisdom of Daruma and Malcolm X in equal doses to any kid looking for something better than a bloody end in the glass-littered gutters of Harlem. For a time, it had been a haven for a punk orphan named John Conquer, until he’d made the decision to use a knife on a Hunts Point pimp instead of his fists and chosen a tour of duty over a jail sentence.

Baba Hamilton encouraged revolutionaries; not the kind the kind the CIA sweated over, but the kind they really ought to fear, the kind in suits and ties. Between kumites he talked up college like it was the Marine Corps.

Had John Conquer taken more of that lesson to heart twelve years ago, he might’ve foregone the actual Marines and didi’d down a different path than the one that had led him staggering through the slicing elephant grass and the gut shuddering thunderstorm of blood and paddy water kicked into the sky by 50mm VC Sky Horse mortars, through the magic and loss of an adopted Montagnard family, and finally to a private investigator’s office on St. Mark’s Place.

But he was back now where he’d left off, under Baba Hamilton’s wary eye, holding his end of a makeshift coat rack chin up bar for a couple of shining, skinny, pre-teen yellow belts to pull themselves up off the floor.  Her snuck a fast wink at Vonetta, the light skinned twenty something black belt with the sweet smile and fighter’s ass.

It was always good to be back in the dojo, good to smell the sweat and the blood and hear the slap of bodies on the mats, to feel that visceral internal heat stoking, like a potter’s fire baking soft muscles and hearts into a hard glaze.

Conquer saw the rawboned kid in the cut sleeves amble in and look around. So did Baba Hamilton.  The hulking dark kenkojuku master raised one massive, callused hand. The sempai ceased his counting, the boys and girls dropped down from the knotted gi ropes hanging from the exposed pipework, and the blue belts stopped midway through their Ten Hands Kata in precise, paramilitary unison.

The shaggy newcomer found himself in a dead silent room, faced with twenty four hard stares possessed by twenty four sweating martial artists of varying degrees of expertise, all of whom would swarm him at a gesture from Baba Hamilton.

He didn’t look away though. He was a tough young bopper, a dirty faced Puerto Rican kid with one of those upper lips that looked more like a splash of chocolate milk than a mustache. It undermined his hard attitude, gave him a boyish cast no amount of gangster posturing could quite overcome. His wild, black tangle of hair was pinched by a red bandanna, so it looked like a potted bunch of geraniums sprouting from his skullcap. His denim vest was adorned with patches, one of which bore the name Jeet Kune Joe. His had eyes scanned the sea of stark white gis with affected nonchalance, but Baba Hamilton stepped forward, way too big to discount.

“Hola young man,” he said, his voice a thunder rumble that could rattle all the panes uptown when he directed it into a kiai shout. “How can we help you?”

“Yo, y’all do kung fu up in here?” the kid asked.

“This is a kenkojuku karate dojo,” said Baba Hamilton. “It’s a style of shotokan handed down by our founder, Sensei Okano Tomosaburo.”

He gestured to a photo of the stern looking, dark haired Japanese man in a black gi on the wall between Brother Malcolm and Dr. King.

The kid stared at the portraits for a while.

“You’re welcome to train with us,” said Baba Hamilton. “But you leave your colors in the street out front.”

That snapped the kid out of his momentary trance.

“Nah, I ain’t here for that. I’m lookin’ for O.G. Juju.”

“There’s nobody here by that name, son,” said Baba Hamilton.

But he was wrong.

Juju, warlord and co-founder of the 167th Street Black Enchanters, was there.

John Conquer had started the outlaw club back in the day with a couple of like-minded fools. He’d been fresh from Vietnam and scratching to survive in the derelict tenements of the South Bronx, boosting car stereos, mugging suckers, and raising hell in a burnout’s race whose only prize was a bunk at Attica. He was a long way from that ragged edged, wild-eyed twenty year old in cut-sleeved olive drab jumping in minor leaguers, rumbling with the Savage Nomads and the white gangs from the North Bronx, torching buildings for cash and butting heads with King Solomon’s pet crews.

In a sense, the boy that had gone by the name Juju was gone.

Hell, Baba Hamilton wasn’t always right, but he was never wrong.

Conquer set his end of the coat rack down and walked up next to Baba Hamilton, mopping the back of his neck with a towel.

“Who’s asking for him?”

***

Occult Detective Quarterly Presents is now on sale from Ulthar Press. Get it!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1726439933/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1537317168&sr=8-6&keywords=occult+detective+quarterly

 

Published in: on September 19, 2018 at 8:58 am  Leave a Comment  
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M. Wayne Miller’s Art for Merkabah Rider 2….

Merkabah Rider: High Planes Drifter is out now, revamped, with a new short story, brand new cover by Juri Umagami and interior art by M. Wayne Miller.

So how about a preview of M. Wayne Miller’s interior art for Merkabah Rider 2: The Mensch With No Name?

Here’s the illo for ‘The Infernal Napoleon.’

The-Infernal-Napoleon-FNL