Meteor Man (part 1)

We’ll round out the month with a relatively new piece, Meteor Man. First written in July ’94, I was never satisfied with it until my last rewrite this past September.

It’s a longish piece at 11,300 words, so I’ve broken it into five pieces. I hope it’s worth it.

Enjoy.

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Meteor Man (part 1)

Singer sat arms folded at the asherpilot’s station. Looking through the forward, he watched their progress towards asteroid 480-SMN-10’s gut as he murmured the digdial’s readout. “Thirty point naught.” A minute later, “Thirty naught one.” A minute more, “Thirty naught two.”

La Velle, sleeping at the co-pilot’s station and with his back to Singer, snored gently.

Singer started raising his voice on the last digit, making a sing-song to alleviate the boredom. “Thirty naught three. Thirty naught four.” A green light flashed on his console. Beside it a screen switched from operations to analytical. The asher, a mechanical scorpion on caterpillar treads, slowed automatically and the hoppers on its back closed to preserve the ores already gathered. The digdial read 30.041 as the asher broke through into a cavern.

Singer lowered the asher’s main mormons and swung the high resolution sensors over the bow, making the scorpion lower its claws and bring its stinger forward. In the vacuum of 480’s interior the mormons touched the cavern floor silently. The high resolution sensors danced at the ends of their metal whips. The only sounds were the mormon’s counterweights sliding forward to keep the asher’s center of gravity stable and the subsequent wind down of its caterpillars. The repeller matrix, which made sure the excavation’s walls didn’t collapse on the asher, lit its stern, bow, starboard, and port with waves of red as it sought structural weaknesses in the cavern.

As the matrix’s oscillators quieted, its light stabilized into a cool, nightsky blue. The subterranean expanse filled with repeller-hued dark and the silence was complete.

The asher’s computer began displaying the sensors’ reports. Singer nudged La Velle. “Wake up.”

La Velle yawned and opened an eye to the forward. He shook and sat up quickly, his hands moving to his armrests to right himself. “What is it?”

“You tell me.”

“Shit.” La Velle linked Mainward. “This is Dig 480-SMN-10. We got a problem.”

Main came back staticky. La Velle and Singer’s asher rested deep in 480, a big asteroid with a weird elliptic which took it far out and far in, far out and far in. “What you got, 480-SMN-10?”

La Velle opened the link. “We’re not sure.” Singer nudged him and La Velle shook him off. “We think we got construction.”

The link responded with dead static. The asher’s digtime clicked off seconds.

Another voice came through the link. “You sure?”

Singer and La Velle looked at each other. Singer sighed. “Meninquez?”

La Velle nodded and groaned. “Meninquez.”

Singer took the link. “We’re some thirty deep. All the way down there was only planetary. Straight geologic. At 30.041 we come to a wall which the asher thinks is neither planetary nor geologic but which it does read as being 2500 orbits younger than 480 itself.”

“Okay. Surface and shutdown. I’ll have someone there tomorrow. Meninquez out.”


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Scotch, Cigars, Andre Bocelli, and Rabbits

Susan’s rabbits are at it again.

Merrily munching away in our yard.

The rabbits are at the point where they stay out when Susan goes outside. She says hello to them.

Her perky little voice goes, “Hello, Bunnies.”

And they look up, turn an ear in her direction, go back to tender leaves and shoots.

I decided to relax with a Scotch and cigar.

Susan asked me to wait until the rabbits had finished their repast.

It’s always good to know one’s place in their household, don’t you think?

 

Hallowe’en Treat – Authors Reading Ghost Stories

I and several other authors were asked to contribute to a video ghost anthology.

First, whoa! I love that kind of validation. Someone wants me to contribute my work to something? I repeat, whoa!

And what a crew!

From The Shadow’s Project Limited: They want you to be terrified on this cold autumn night because it is HALLOWEEN!

Seventeen of the world’s best writers and journalists from around the world come together for one night only to tell their Halloween stories to bring fright and delight to Halloween 2021. If you are not terrified by the end of the video you are braver than I. But I want you to be filled with fear to celebrate this wonderfully fun event,.

Chapters:
00:00 – Intro
00:19 – Dan Tynan
03:50 – Joanne Paulson
11:49 – Dawn De Braal
16.46 – Cori Nevruz
20:20 – Dylan Brody
40:27 – Matt Adcock
46:18 – Jeremy Herriges
53:46 – Joseph Carrabis (my contribution’s from The Shaman)
01:00:05 – Terry Melia
01:05:08 – A.B. Neilly
01:10:26 – David Pipe
01:15:16 -J.E. Branham
01:21:37 – Amit Bhanot
01:28:08 – Tasha Brown
01:33:38 – G. Quinn Rogers
01:38:44 – A.C. Merkel
01:44:03 – Elaine Marie Carnegie
01:50:04 – Outro

CONTACT THE WRITERS ON TWITTER
Terry Melia
Dan Tynan
Joanne Paulson
Dawn Debraal
Cori Nevruz
Dylan Brody
Matt Adcock
Joseph Carrabis
Elaine Marie Carnegie
A.C. Merkel
Jeremy Herriges
Tasha Brown
G Quinn Rogers
David Pipe
A.B. Neilly

Watch it on YouTube or below:

(and let us know what you think)

Romance Versus Sex

Yesterday at the gym, after my workout and on my way out, as I walked up the stairs to the main doors, I looked up and saw two female staff members talking at the top of the stairs.

I smiled and they smiled back. I said, “Ah to climb a winding stair and there two beautiful women await. This is the stuff of ancient romance. Who’s heart would not beat fiercer in their breast for seeing the same.”

One of the women, a decade or so short of my age, laughed.

The other woman, in her middle thirties, did not.

I can’t guarantee and am comfortable that both know I’m an author as I often (with permission) interview female staff members on women’s responses to situations to add authenticity (and remove male subjectivity) from my characters.

And in that moment, I wondered if our woke selves have misplaced sex for romance. I see such things and hear Shakespearian sonnets. I wonder what others hear.

If only romance could be recognized as the heart singing a song rather than the dick looking for a home.

Cold War

My first draft of Cold War is dated 22 Jul 1987 and is based on my experiences in the arctic and working for USAACRREL: United States Army Arctic and Cold Regions Research and Environmental Labs. I wrote the story for a workshop. Self-reflection and -inspection wasn’t in vogue at that time and wouldn’t be for another five or so years. Most stories presented were tech driven and bored me. The one or two character driven stories were weak because the character aspect had to break through the tech aspect.

Anyway, since then it’s been published in Midnight Zoo ’92, Horizons Science Fiction ’99, Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires 2016, and Daikaijuzine Sept 2020.

Enjoy.

Cold War

Home is…south? Gotta be. Everything’s south.

Which way is south? Can’t smell it anymore. Damn compass froze, it’s so cold.

Cold didn’t bother me the first 250 miles. Neither did the glare of the sun. Or the endless white. Or the total lack of smells. Someone told me there’d be weird smells up here. There aren’t any. Not this far north. There’s the smell of the ocean, humming beneath this glacier. I could smell the snow at first. That stopped after a few hours, after my mind got so use to the smell of white that it got blocked out. The winds don’t howl like I thought they would. They wouldn’t this time of year, anyway. But they whisper. The glacier surface is so flat I can hear conversations back in Mantinac Bay. They come to me when I let my mind rest, when I lay down to sleep. That’s not like in-country. You lay down in-country, any thing’s got legs uses you for an LZ, a runway. The ice surface is uneven, though. Up close it’s uneven. That’s like in-country. But nothing crawls over you. Nothing living, nothing but the wind.

I don’t sleep that much anymore. The monitor’s attached to my chest. Physically attached. They sowed it into me where the skin is thickest. So I can’t sleep on my stomach and when I sleep on my back I can see this damn little red light blink blink blink. Blink blink blink. Keeps you up all night, you know? Blink blink blink.

How much farther? I use to be able to do this in my head when I started. Mantinac to the Pole is nine-hundred sixty klicks. I’ve gone four-hundred. What does that leave?

It’s a long trip. Some nut told me the ice would smooth out. This from a guy with a Ph.D. in cold weather research. Guy learned from a book. That was back at USAACRREL: United States Army Arctic and Cold Regions Research and Environmental Labs in Hanover, New Hampshire. New Hampshire can get cold, when the Montreal Express comes in the from the north and we get a Nor’Easter heading in from the Maritimes. One year we had a snow squall New England style. That’s a hurricane in winter. It got cold. Not like this. This is a dry cold. They didn’t modify me right. I can feel it. Right up my legs to where my willy used to be. I can feel it.

I started with just over nine-hundred kilos of supplies. Stupid bastards. Over nine-hundred kilos in the sled, my body weight just under a metric ton. Oh yeah. They figured this one right. Each time my feet splayed, the fishtails on my soles picked up little slivers of ice that worked their way in. Deep. Kind of like shin splints that itch. I’ve only used a third of the supplies. That part of the design went right, anyway. Big as I am, I don’t need much food anymore. How ’bout that, mom? Mother never raised no tiny children, she used to say. What you think of your poor boy now, momma? They took what you and papa made one night and made me something no woman will look at again.

Everybody thinks they find test subjects in jails. He’s a lifer, he’ll do this to get out. Maybe a college student who needs extra beer money. Oh, and there’s this one, where they volunteer some private to go hazard. You know how Garrett got to be The Flash? Fricken’ lightening hits his lab bench and douses him with chemicals. Fricken’ Bruce Banner would have a tumor the size of a football if he ever sat in a gamma ray like they said. Remember ‘When Captain America throws his mighty shield’? The next line should have been ‘That ninety pound wimp gets a dick as hard as steel.’

Used to read comics all the time. Can’t remember too many of them now.

How much further do I have to go?

Got this thing in the side of my head. They said it was like what they did to help me walk after Charlie sent me a baseball as I jumped off the Rome. I never walked right. They said they would fix all that, too. Make me a fricken’ Steve Austin. Fuck. This thing in my head, under this plate, it listens to me and signals some satellite where I am and how I’m doing okay.


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