Hand soap bubbles; Excerpt: Corpse Flower

hand soap bubblesToday’s appreciation: The way the bubbles look while rising through the hand soap refill bottle.

They make me think of hot air balloons. The more the bottle is squeezed, the more air is sucked back in, and the bigger the bubble. Rising up past the rim and up through the viscous fluid to burst against a surface that’s actually at the bottom of the bottle–I couldn’t look away.

I think it’s good to enjoy the little moments in life. Sometimes it’s hard to see the ground for the leaves, but instead of crying for the hidden grass it’s nice to look up at the newly cleared sky.

At the very least, racing soap bubbles turns an everyday task into something a bit magical.

So on Thursday I had the biggest migraine I’ve had in over ten years. It was like someone stuck an ice pick in through my left eye and into my brain. It was absolutely horrible.

If you’ve never had a migraine before, you are truly lucky. Because it’s not just the skull-splitting pain, it’s also the nausea, the eye agony, and the weird and painful sound effects. After a really bad one it takes several days to begin feeling normal again.

I’d almost forgotten what a migraine felt like.

wish I could forget what a migraine feels like. Because that last one? No thanks.

It was so bad that I still feel nauseated when I focus for too long. So don’t be surprised if there’s future stories featuring scenes of insanely awful headaches and the misery that accompanies them.

Anyways, I’ve been scribbling on my NaNoWriMo story. It seems like there’s a lot more thinking happening than action, but I’m sure it will all work itself out.

Which sounds like some of the most hyperbolic bs I’ve ever spouted, but I’ve got a good idea where this story might possibly be going. There’s still another 10 days.


Title: Corpse Flower
Note: Dafydd — pronounced “DAH-vith”

Dinner had consisted of pimento-stuffed green olives and dill pickle spears. It made Dafydd think that his kidnappers were inexperienced, that or they hadn’t really believed they’d catch him. Either way, he had the growing fear that they were going to kill him. And there was nothing he could do to stop it.

Huddled on a smelly mattress on the floor, Dafydd wished he’d listened to his uncle’s head of security. The annoying man had told him he was being too predictable with his routine. He hadn’t listened.

Now I’m going to die here in this unfinished basement. The thought was a bleak one.

Hugging his knees against his chest, Dafydd allowed himself to cry. He needed an emotional release and tears seemed the safest. (Blood was something he’d promised to keep on the inside of his body. Self-harm was a suckers bet.)

He missed his family and his friends. He missed the comfort of his own bed and the sense of safety in which he used to sleep. He missed food that wasn’t vinegar and salt.

He’d only been here a little while, but he was ready to tell this whole situation goodbye.

If Dafydd could blink and wish his way home, he would have been long gone. As it was, for a heart stopping length of time, the walls seemed to loom close around him. There were thin lines of color radiating out of different parts of the cinder block walls, pulsating in-and-out with his frantic breaths.

It was only when spots passed across his vision that he realized he was hyperventilating. It was a new and unpleasant experience.

Digging his forehead into his knees, Dafydd tried to bring his breathing under control. It was harder than he expected, and he experienced a new level of empathy for asthmatics.

His lungs became the sole focus of his world. Every breath he couldn’t draw in was another silent scream for “Air!” that he couldn’t answer.

Tears filled his helpless eyes. Darkness edged across his vision. As he lost consciousness the door opened. Hard soled footsteps trekked across the room to stand next to the mattress. He caught a fading glimpse of dark denim pants tucked into ankle high black and tan work shoes.

“Is he finally out yet?” the owner of the shoes asked.

“Looks like,” came a reply from the door, but Dafydd couldn’t see the speaker. It took him a precious few moments to realize that his eyelids had closed.

Hands clasped around his upper arms, careless of any discomfort being caused. “Come and help me. I know he’s a skinny fucker, but he’s limp as a noodle. You sure the drugs aren’t gonna kill him?”

“I’m sure. Here, let me get these.” Dafydd felt hands close around his ankles, but that was it.

He was out for the count.


Carp. That was the first memory he had from childhood. He’d delighted in standing on the shore of the manmade lake and feeding pellets and bread to the black spotted brown fish. They would come so close to get the food that he could feel their wide mouths opening and closing against his fingers and palms.

He would stand on the shore for hours while his dad did “business” with his “friends.” Sometimes their voice would get loud, but he’d quickly learned not to turn his head to look.

It was the reason why he missed seeing the “friend” that shot and killed his father. And because he couldn’t specify which of the four men had pulled the trigger, the murderer got away. He’d let the gunpowder residue on his hands be his reasonable doubt as the four men had gone shooting a half hour before killing Dafydd’s scheming yet often bumbling dad.

A propensity for hanging around the wrong people had helped to kill Roland Danvers Cove. But an obsession with carp was what let his murderer get away.

Dafydd tasted helpless rage for the first time when he was seven years old. Standing in the DA’s office with his back pressed against the wall and the fingers of his left hand firmly jammed in his mouth. He’d stopped sucking his fingers when he was four, but he couldn’t resist after the news he’d received.

They weren’t going to pursue the case against his father’s murderer. There wasn’t enough evidence and he wasn’t a viable witness because he hadn’t seen anything with his own eyes.

He’d only heard the loud pop-pop! and when he turned his dad was lying on the ground.

He hadn’t seen the murder himself. But he’d seen the blood and he’d seen the body–his dad— splayed across the ground.

His first thought was that his dad would never sleep in that position. He’d lay flat on his back with his hands folded on his chest–like a vampire, he used to tease.

But he wouldn’t tease anyone ever again, and it was Dafydd’s fault. He should have known who did it.

He should have been watching his dad’s back.

He never went to see the carp again. He’d betrayed his dad by liking the fish more than him.

Because no matter how much he loved his dad, even at that young age he hadn’t liked him.

It wasn’t a surprise that someone would want to kill Roland Cove. It was simply unfortunate that Dafydd was present when it happened.

The feel of what might have been a dozen carp opening and closing their mouths against his arms and hands reminded him of the lake. Mouths nibbled at his fingers and tried to leave hickies up and down his arms.

He wondered if this was really happening. He wanted to believe it was just an odd dream, but he feared it was real.

His eyelids were too heavy to lift and his body was out of his control. He felt like a blind and deaf mannequin, his limbs deadened and immobile–there, but as far away as the moon at the same time.

He’d never felt so helpless before. Not even on that day.

The carp mostly worked their way up his arms and began darting here and there from his shoulders down across his chest.

He was becoming uncomfortable. He didn’t think those mouths were carp. Because when the rapidly multiplying carp spread down past his breastbone so a few could begin mouthing over his stomach, he felt the pressure of teeth in their mouths. Large pointy teeth that hovered over his flesh like a threat.

Maybe they’re piranha, he thought, and they’re just waiting for me to make a move. Then they’ll strip me to the bone.

But he couldn’t move. He was trapped wherever he was lying and there was no stopping what was happening. Even when it became painful and he couldn’t scream.

All he could do was endure.

Dafydd thought that his mind broke somewhere. He definitely felt different afterward, changed in some inexplicable way. His very perceptions seemed to have warped, the world becoming a high contrast mess of bright lights and darkly hued colors.

On first opening his eyes after waking back on his mattress, he immediately stuck his head over the side and vomited. His head was suffering from a spinning headache and now all he could smell was puke.

“Great,” he groaned, rubbing his eyes with his bandaged hands. Then he had to examine what had been done to him, because he hadn’t been wearing bandages before and now he was wrapped from neck to toe. His head was the only part of him uncovered.

He was terrified to see what had been done to him, yet at the same time he had to know.

Stiffly he ran his hands over his body. His sense of touch was subdued, but he got twinges at different points that told him he was wounded beneath the bandages. He could not tell how bad things were, so he refrained from adding any pressure. He had a feeling that he was going to be miserable later.

Or probably sooner than that, he thought at the sound of the door once again being opened.


Heroes & Villains: “Dinner For Two” by Harper Kingsley

Title: Dinner For Two
Author: Harper Kingsley
Series: Heroes & Villains
Setting: post-The Wedding, pre-Allies & Enemies
Characters: Vereint Georges, Warrick Reidenger Tobias


Walking into the penthouse, Warrick was greeted by bags of groceries on the counter and Vereint wearing an apron and nothing else. The sight of that devilish smile and those bare arms and legs made Warrick hitch his step on the way to the hall closet to hang up his jacket.

“What’s going on?” he asked slowly. He couldn’t help tracing his gaze over Vereint, seeing where the brightly colored fabric curved, bent, cupped, and what it did and didn’t cover. It took him an extra few seconds to get his jacket on the hanger and the closet door closed.

“I thought we’d cook dinner together,” Vereint said. “I saw this recipe for garlic butter steak.”

“Steak?” Warrick’s mouth salivated at the thought. “Butter… That’s going to be a calorie bomb though.”

“Tonight’s special,” Vereint said.

“Oh?” Warrick crossed the intervening space and wrapped his arms around Vereint. He peeked over Vereint’s shoulder and couldn’t help grinning at the sight of a bare back and buttocks. He let the fingers of his right hand drift off the apron and lightly brush against Vereint’s skin. He was always so warm.

Vereint obligingly pressed closer to him, one hand going into Warrick’s hair. “Mm.”

“Why’s tonight special?” Warrick asked. He tried to walk Vereint toward their bedroom, but Vereint didn’t move. Warrick stopped pulling at him, resting his whole weight against him instead. If Vereint didn’t want to be moved, there would be no moving him.

“It’s our anniversary,” Vereint said. He must have felt Warrick’s body stiffen with sudden panic because he laughed. “Don’t worry; it’s not our wedding anniversary. It’s the anniversary of the first time I took you hostage.”


“You know, when we were in that bank–”

“And you were wearing that horrible shirt!” Warrick laughed and squeezed Vereint.

“That’s when you fell in love with me,” Vereint said.

“No way,” Warrick said. “You terrorized a bank full of people and took me hostage. I thought you were a brat.”

“A brat that you immediately fell in love with because that’s the kind of person you are. You thrive on adversity.”

“And you being a brat is what you consider adversity?”

“No. I call that ‘charm.’ The adversity part comes in when you try to resist jumping my bones as we sear the rib-eye I’ve got on the counter.” Vereint tugged himself out of Warrick’s arms and headed toward the kitchen. The flirty wink he tossed over his shoulder and the way he flexed the globes of his ass were a dare.

Watching him go, Warrick shook his head with a rueful grin. He could definitely feel the adversity now.

Sneak peek: Complicit

I was working on a drawing project and this idea popped in my head. It’s called “Complicit” and it’s a short story that will be on KDP Select. As such, expect a download link that will allow you to grab a free copy before it’s released to the public.

“When Hannah was young, she knew her father was a good man. He’d always told her so, and all she’d ever seen were the golden moments.”

ink drawing featuring the word 'Complicit'

* * *

Sent the original post via email from my phone. Several corrections were made and it was kind of a mess. So apologies for that.

Excerpt —

When Hannah was young, she knew that her father was good man. He’d always told her so, and all she ever witnessed were the golden moments: The hotel openings. The resplendent parties. The employees all perfectly pressed to corporate code.

It took years for her to notice that the smiles were forced. Her father couldn’t see it—his smile was always real, a fierce baring of self-satisfaction in a job well done—but she could.

By then, her own smiles were forced too.

People didn’t like her family.

Even though he told her “Don’t read that trash”—she couldn’t resist taking a peek. She worked for the company now. If there was a PR problem happening, then it was her job to fix it. All neat and legal to keep any backlash from happening.

Still, she helped change the narrative. That’s how she explained it to her father later. She was adjusting the media focus with a few philanthropic gestures.

And honestly, it felt good to help mothers and children. It made her think of her own mother—(beautiful face a mess of bruises. The split of her lower lip raw in a way Hannah had never seen before)—who she hadn’t seen in years.

Sometimes she missed the court-mandated visits of her childhood. At least then she’d had an excuse to give in the face of her father’s jealousy. Now if she visited her mother, he would view it as a personal betrayal and she didn’t want him to know that she’d been lying to him for years.

She missed her mother. Helping women and children in need eased the ache.

Even if she never stepped foot at any site, she was the one that authorized the release of funds. She was the one her father smiled at so proudly when she pointed out she’d cleaned up their PR problem and given them a good tax write-off at the same time.

He loved sticking it to the IRS. And sure, they’d caught him a few times before, but he’d always bounced back. “It’s all part of the game, honey,” he’d said after the third bankruptcy. And his laugh had been so loud it made her ears ache.

Sometimes she had to explain things to him carefully. Pointing out the pros and cons of every given situation with her chosen path clearly highlighted. And maybe it helped to dress in rich colors and low-cuts, but that was just business. She knew how the world worked.

Hannah enjoyed the philanthropic side of things. And after her father caused that little mess, she was finally able to start the charity she’d always dreamed of.

She wanted her family name to be remembered for both great and good things.


Things I’m growing; Projects and Such

It’s gardening time again. I’m not the best at it, but I keep trying.

Things I’m growing so-far:
Cherry tomatoes
Bell pepper
Pet grass

I’ve got tons of other seeds, but I lack the space to grow them in once they’re big.

“Don’t plant where I gotta mow.”
“We don’t need a bunch of holes in the yard.”

So I’m looking at container plants, and I’ll maybe use a corner of my uncle’s garden. But small and sustainable is what I’m looking at.

I also need to look around for a safe moth spray. They come and lay their eggs on the fruit trees. If they can, they try to get their babies amongst the blossoms. It’s awful.


Stuff I’m working on:

ATR and Tuesday Night, of course.

Plus drawing and painting so my Ren’Py game will be awesome. People like graphics in games *shrug*.

I’mma be throwing Overwatch[1] to the public. There was some interest, and I do need to expand the details of the Kanon-verse.


[1] In Tuesday Night, the Teen Demis and many other superhero groups receive orders and oversight from Overwatch. Attached to the CMPF and the budding Metahuman Affairs Bureau (MAB), Overwatch is an organization setup and funded by the Tobias Foundation.

Started by Warrick Tobias upon the diagnoses of his brain tumor[2], Overwatch was founded in memorium of his long-time friend Blue Ice. Killed the year before in battle against the Hammer of Doom, Blue Ice had been one of the nation’s most beloved superheroes.

In honor of Blue Ice, many superheroes volunteered their time and expertise to the Overwatch program. It became the place where superheroes unfit for the field could still serve. Guiding, helping, and reining in the next generation.

Overwatch is a long-time organization in the Kanon-verse


[2] Dr. Zee had to get those brains from somewhere. And as the Kanon-verse operates at a different time-rate to the Heroes & Villains universe, Kanon-Warrick suffered some irreparable brain damage before he met Vereint. Very sad.

As such, Starburst was enrolled in so-called Charm School, where his psionic metability was studied and honed. By the time the side-effects were discovered, it was too late. Starburst had renamed himself Darkstar and half of Megacity was in his thrall.

The Wall surrounding and segregating Darkstar’s Megacity was built in record time. The Omega-class metahuman stood on the tip of the tallest rooftop spire and watched the construction. It was a relief when he didn’t intervene.

Supplies are delivered daily to the four Gates built into the Wall. As the agreement stands, as long as the Darksters never leave their walled city, they will receive all they need to survive and serve their “Dark God[3].”

a page out of Heroes & Villains, a novel by Harper Kingsley
Heroes & Villains, by Harper Kingsley
page out of Heroes & Villains, a novel by Harper Kingsley
Heroes & Villains, by Harper Kingsley

Excerpt Title: Overwatch
Author: Harper Kingsley
World: Kanon-verse
Character: Warrick Reidenger Tobias, Caspian Dukes
Genre: superhero, angst, friendship, major illness

Warrick Reidenger Tobias was packing for a business trip to Chicago when it felt as though the world suddenly whirled around him. He staggered against the bed, dropping the navy silk tie he held as his hand lost all strength. Multicolor lights flared behind his eyes.

He didn’t realize he’d dropped until his knees hit the floor. His head bounced against the carpet. His body twitched and shivered uncontrollably.

It was his first seizure.

It wasn’t his last.

~ ~ ~

The doctors didn’t know what was wrong with him. Dozens of specialists and days spent in drafty paper gowns having his blood sucked out by needles and his brain scanned by machines. He felt like a lab experiment.

And at the end of it all, there were still no answers, just speculation.

He hated feeling helpless. But there was nothing he could do.

So he continued with his life and pretended that everything was all right. As though faking normal would *make* everything normal.

He did such a good job at pretending that he started believing it after awhile. As though the past few weeks had been a dream and he was finally awake.

He was free to go about his regularly scheduled life of superheroing and presiding over a large and powerful company.

And then there was another seizure and another one and another one, so rapid and close together that he didn’t recognize what was happening until after the third one, the BIG one. The one where he finally had to admit there was a problem because Caspian had seen and just wouldn’t let it go.



[3] Which is an irony, as I’ve been considering having the Kanon-Darkstar go on walkabout after ATR. Events progress, time gets wacky, and the God of Light comes into being.

After a timeless eternity floating through the nothingness, he. creates Sindarek, his brother and the God of Chaos, and later a sister, Goddess of the Night.

Events are explained when Rue’s Chosen enact the Play of Light in his honor. But basically Sindarek gets jealous and attacks the God of Light, destroying his physical form, and beginning his cycle of wearing human avatar bodies (like Rue). During the fight, there was a tear in spacetime, and the God of Light’s blood ended up in Universe A, creating the human gods.

Due to the humans of Universe A spreading from their now-hostile universe to neighboring realities, where they are gods in human form, there is a contamination of multiverse not just with the introduction of the human gene mutation known as the Nor-gene (resulting in metahumans) there is also the spread of the nectar bee mutation caused by the multiversal adventures of the superheroine known as Blue Devil aka Blue Fairy aka Fairy Godmother aka The Godmother of Horns.


Anyways, I’ve got stuff percolating in my brain, and I’m trying to get them all down on paper.

Excerpt: “Overwatch”-segment; Drawing; Whatever

Title: Overwatch
Author: Harper Kingsley
Universe: Kanon-verse (alternate universe version of Heroes & Villains)


Here I am, he thought. One day older. One day closer.

He squeezed his eyes closed. Drew a deep breath in through his nose. Then he pressed the button that raised the top portion of the hospital bed to an upright position. He clenched his teeth against the pain, feeling the lines around his nose and eyes pull tight.

If he lived, he would carry reminders of this experience forever.

Finally the pain shifted, released. He could breathe. The tears weren’t threatening to squeeze their way past his eyelids.

He took a few moments to regain his composure. Then he shifted the fingers of his left hand onto the call button. Concentrated. And pressed.

Thirty seconds later a nurse appeared. “Good morning, Blue Ice. Are you ready for your pain medications now?”

Warrick thought about saying No. Thought about pretending to be strong for one more minute and continuing to suffer through this agony that had become his life. Then he thought about cool relief from the nerve pain caused by his continuous brain seizures.

“Sir?” the nurse asked. “Is that a Yes or a No on the pain medication at this time? I need a verbal reply, as per your instructions.”

Sometimes Warrick cursed his past-self. That self-assured fool that had never truly believed he could be brought so low. Who never would have imagined a time when all he’d want was for someone else to make the hard choices, because he hurt too much to even care.

Y-y-yessss,” he hissed out through his teeth.

Then there was sweet relief at the hands of his beautiful caretaker. He didn’t know her name, but he loved her with all the fervor of someone finally released from the grasp of wretched misery.

He drifted for some timeless state of being.

A few precious moments completely free from pain.

Time was pressing in on itself. Soon these moments wouldn’t exist. He would count his blessings in seconds, not minutes. Then milliseconds. Then no relief at all. Pain would become his world.

And then he would die.

I hate this, he thought for the millionth time. Why won’t someone come save me for once?

The door slammed open hard enough to take a gouge out of the wall. Caspian didn’t pause in his entrance, coming right to the side of the bed, his grin a fierce baring of teeth. His eyes were like blue fire.

Warrick’s breath caught. He was all aquiver. He felt a desperate hope blooming in his chest.

“I found it. I found it!” Caspian reached his hand toward Warrick’s face, then ever-so-gently, careful of his friend’s propensity for pain, brushed his finger along the arch of Warrick’s cheek. “As long as you hold on, you miserable fuck, you’re going to be out of this hospital bed in a month, walking around. But you’ve gotta hold on, you hear me War? Can you hold on?”

Warrick drew in a shuddering breath. He formed the words slowly, carefully, wanting himself to be clearly heard. “Y-es. Ho-lding onn iss hw-wha-at I do b-es-t.


crossposted at Kimichee.com


I’ve been drawing a bit, which has really helped my imagination come up with storylines and characters.

I got a copy of “Drawing and Painting Beautiful Faces with Jane Davenport” and I’ve been trying to make the people I draw look more attractive and less lopsided. I really like this book. I’ve been carrying it around with me, and I’ve been drawing with colored pencil so I can’t erase anything, and my people’s lips are beginning to look like lips.


About the Warrick thing up there ^ ^ – Things are a bit different in the Kanon-verse, and not just where “Pulse of the City” is concerned. It’s why things are so different in “Tuesday Night.”

Excerpt “All That Remains” – from Chapter Five

Title: All That Remains – excerpt Chapter Five
Author: Harper Kingsley
Genre: superhero. science fiction. action. mm.


They didn’t get to enjoy the afterglow for even five minutes before someone rang the front doorbell. Then rang it again, and again, and again, before leaving their finger on the button for a long time.

One look at Vereint’s darkening expression had Warrick climbing out of bed. “I’ve got it.”

He pulled on a pair of black sweatpants and a loose gray tee shirt.

“No underwear?” Vereint asked.

“I don’t care if whoever that is sees me free-balling,” Warrick said.

“But it might be one of Nicky’s friends. Put on your robe,” Vereint ordered. Then rolled on his stomach and burrowed his face into his pillow. “I’mma sleep now.”

Warrick rolled his eyes fondly. “If you weren’t so cute…” He picked his robe up off a chair and slipped his arms in the sleeves, tying the belt as he left the bedroom and padded barefoot down the stairs.

Whoever was on the porch rang the doorbell again.

“Okay, okay. I’m coming!” Warrick called. He could feel himself getting irritated. His evening with Vereint was being spoiled by this interruption.

He forced himself not to jerk the door open. The last thing he wanted to deal with was a broken front door. Instead he —-purposely—- turned the knob and opened the door.

“Can I help you?” he asked the delivery man in a frosty tone.

“It’s a good thing you’re here. I was about to leave.” The guy proferred a clipboard. “I need a signature, please.”

Warrick took the clipboard but didn’t sign until the delivery man showed him the package with Vereint’s assumed name on the label. Then he scrawled a signature on the digital paper and exchanged the clipboard for the loaf of bread-sized box.

“Thanks,” he growled, then slammed the door and locked it. He waited until he heard the truck start up and drive away before carrying the package upstairs to Vereint.

“Who was it?” Vereint asked when Warrick came in the room.

“A delivery for you.” Warrick set the box on the bed and began stripping back down. He wasn’t giving up a rare opportunity to lounge naked.

“Hedonist,” Vereint teased. He didn’t lift his head from his pillow, just reached out a hand to snake the box across the covers toward himself. He fumbled at the tape with one hand, eventually pulling it off the lid in one strip.

Warrick climbed into his side of the bed and sat with his back against the headboard. His pillow was somewhere on the floor. “What’d you get?” he asked.

“I don’t know.”

“So it could be a bomb, and you’re opening it on our bed?”

“Yes.” Vereint fumbled the box lid open and tilted it toward Warrick. “What’s in there?”

Warrick reached out to move the brown packing paper out of the way. “It looks like a creepy doll. Is someone going to try and serial kill us now?”

Vereint snorted. “I’d like to see someone try.” He lifted the doll out of the box by its head, tilting it so he could get a good look. “Hm. That is creepy. Who’s it from?”

Warrick glanced at the widely smiling bald ceramic head with the hand and foot-less white cloth body and fought a shudder. He looked at the outside of the box, then the inside. He even flipped it over to show there was nothing inside.

“There’s no name,” he said. “Someone went out of their way to send you a creepy doll anonymously. Strange and suspicious.”

Vereint rolled over and sat up, the bedcovers pooling over his bare lap. He picked up the doll with both hands and examined it closely. “Whoever made this knows how to sew, yet purposely made it look amateurish. It’s a taunt.”


Vereint whipped the doll around by one leg and smacked the head against his night table. The head cracked apart, a small slip of paper falling out.

Vereint snatched the paper out of the air and spread it open. “‘I know who you are,'” he read aloud. “What the shit is this?”

/end excerpt


Wanna know who these guys are before reading “All That Remains”? Check them out first in “Heroes & Villains“, then follow it up with “Allies & Enemies.”

EXCERPT: some sci-fi thing

Seiver hit the ground hard. Thankfully it was kneepads first, though it still felt as though his bones were coming apart. He immediately muscles to his feet with a mental note to watch what he was doing.

He wasn’t getting shot.

Amongst the maelstrom of returning fire, Seiver focused on his job. The reason he was paid the big bucks.

He crouched in the center of the room and began assembling the Anum Porta. His hands were steady as he slid the frame parts together. He’d practiced until he could almost match the base record.

Sweat was gathering around his neck. He could feel his bandanna getting soggy.

He willed the sweat not to form on his forehead. But he was only human. Heavy droplets gathered across his forehead and trickled like tears down to his jawline.

In his peripheral he recognized that his protection squad had dwindled from 6 to 4. It was the kind of realization that usually came to him when he was on downtime. The fact that his platoon-mates were dying for him.

He shook off the flicker of shock. He didn’t have time right now.

Part A into Part B, he thought. The portal was nearly complete. Then he could grab up his gun and guard it.

Something slammed into his back and he shouldered it aside without pausing in his work. It was the body of Private Hoskins. Seiver’s brain helpfully identified the nametag as the face was gone. A sound escaped his throat before he swallowed it back.

Not now.

Now as for bolting the last pieces in place and snapping the ring into the stand.

There was a sound like angel’s singing. A rush of melodic harmony as the circuit was completed and the miniature-Gate connected with the Intergalactic Ansible Network.

The Gate glowed red briefly and Seiver quickly got behind it.

A ringing tone was held a second longer than any other, then there was a loud GONG! Sound. And the Gate snapped open. A flare of blinding light swiftly obscured by Gatepods.

The capsules struck like bullets, smashing through walls and bodies. When they stopped, the lids burst open to release the marines inside.

EXCERPT: Mama’s Boy [sci-fi, time travel, drama]

“She always kept herself ready for the end of the world.

“That’s what I remember of my mom.

“She was always prepared.

“Even as we lived the normal suburban lifestyle; quietly she taught me all of the skills I was using in the resistance. Such as camping and lying and getting the most out of people. She taught me how to survive.”

MEMORY: Sitting on a stool in the corner of the kitchen. Watching mother bake and chat with the visiting friends filling the living room. Not a one of them could guess that secretly she didn’t want them in her home.

She was a brilliant liar. She taught him so much. / :MEMORY

Mother could be quite vivacious. She brought energy and positivity to every situation. She had a cold pragmatism to her, but it was wrapped in a layer of silly laughter and a lighthearted intelligence. She charmed everyone that met her, personality shifting like a chameleon.

He loved that only family ever got to see the real her. It taught him to wear different faces in public and at home.

She taught him that family was the most important thing, but that there could also be extended family–*Family* as it were–people to count on and be counted by.

When the government collapsed, all he saw was his family. He kept the people he loved alive, and they fought just as hard to protect him.

And then there were more people and they were a Family.

And other Families appeared and they were Clans.

And there were scuffles and Wars and the Clans, the Companies, the *Nations*–all of them had found their places in the world.

And there was peace for fifty years.

And then the Others came, and even after they were defeated and humanity slipped the bonds of slavery, society still fell into despair and ruin.

There were more baseline humans than ever before and the nanotech factories had long gone silent. All of the technicians were dead.

And he continued to care for his Family, the people that he had gathered together during the rebellion and made his own. They looked to him for guidance, and he made vows to do his best for them.

Which made the discovery of the time machine an intriguing prospect, one that he was unable to turn away from.

Being able to somehow change things and shorten his peoples’ hardships, how could he say no?

He weighed what he knew of the cost and made the choice.


ASIDE: She lived with a steady sense of urgency. There was something terrible coming in the future. She’d lived long enough to FEEL when the family luck was about to change.

She turned a bunch of toolboxes into survival kits and storage for extra things. Band-Aids at first, then small screw driver sets, rubber mallets [ILLUSTRATION: great for tanning hides and hammering in nails], and first aid kits.

The first survival boxes she made were simple things. Then she began adding changes of clothes and The Friendly Swedes’ magnesium emergency fire starters to the boxes and they evolved into something a bit more complete, with a few days rations, a simple survival pamphlet, and a pencil box of bare necessity supplies in every one.

She didn’t know what was coming, but she wanted to be prepared.

Because she only had to glance into Sean’s eyes to see that he would fight. Whatever the future brought, he would not be content with just surviving. And whatever trouble found him, he would bring it home to her.

A life on the run had no appeal, but she’d done it before. She could teach him all the ways to be small and quiet, unnoticed in crowds of people. She could teach him to blend into the background and wait for chance and opportunity.

But until he became desperate, she despaired of him ever learning subtlety. He was a strutting peacock and she worried for him.

And quietly she prepared. Prepping for her son’s future.