Despite a near-catastrophic PC meltdown I faced a few days ago, I was fortunate enough to have managed to write a guest post on Warp Speed Odyssey blog about my latest cyberpunk thriller, Through Stranger Eyes. In it, I explain a couple of things about what I had in mind while writing the book, the “what if” questions that triggered the story and the plot, and a bit about the setting. You can read all about it here.
Here’s a brief excerpt:
[…] The story takes place several decades after the end of the last great war that saw the planet almost destroyed and had billions in casualties. Ten mega-corporations (The Matriarchs) run the world as a form of government and all of them deal in body augmentations among other things. Due to the lack of habitable areas on the planet, cities are now stacked one on top of another and they are called stacked megacities. If that’s too hard to grasp, imagine going to your window, looking out and up, and seeing the bottom part of another city on top of you instead of the sky.
Ground Floor, Second Room To The Left is a week old. I was so stressed the past few weeks with this release as well as the production of my debut novel, that I actually didn’t think I would make it in time. But at last, it happened. It’s out!
Those of you following my page on Facebook or are in my newsletter, had already had a chance to read an excerpt of my latest short story. Below you can read the first couple of pages from Ground Floor, Second Room To The Left.
In case you missed it last week, this is the story of Joe and Lucy, a married couple of scavengers, who enter a derelict building to steal copper pipes, only to realise they’re locked in. Things take a turn for the worse because Lucy is claustrophobic and can’t stand the idea of being trapped. But the real problem is the messages that begin to appear on the walls, floor, and ceiling. More importantly, what the messages tell Joe and Lucy they need to do for freedom.
The Second Empire-style house has stood since 1947, but no one has ever lived in it. To the left of the structure stands a pair of dead poplar trees, their branches entwined like Graeco-Roman wrestlers. To the right is a pair of desiccated oaks, also with entangled limbs. The trees dominate the yellow-brown jungle that once was the garden.
An old Ford F-100 pulls over not far from the rickety wooden fence. In it, Joe takes a photo out of his pocket and looks at it. It’s a photo of the house, taken shortly after its construction, but it’s one without the trees. His brow arches up and he lifts the photo next to the house to compare the two. He nods and puts it back in his breast pocket. He then places his hand on Lucy’s knee and gives it an affectionate rub.
Now that the rain has finally stopped, Joe switches the wipers off, allowing Lucy a clear view of the building. As she examines it, a small knot forms at the pit of her gut that chases away the fake excitement she had up to now. Under the racing lead-coloured clouds, the house stands dark, barren, and wind-bitten. Almost on the verge of falling in on itself.
A small bulge on her throat goes down once and rises slowly, but she gives her husband a smile and hopes he doesn’t notice her discomfort. She takes his hand into hers to give it a soft kiss, and rests her head on his shoulder for the last bumpy and mud-filled stretch of road leading to the house.
They park the battered Ford in the overgrown gravel driveway.
“Looks ancient,” Lucy says. “No owners?”
“Nope. Unclaimed property for over three or four decades. Locals said no one has set foot here except one or two demolition crews.”
“Well, it’s still standing,” Lucy says.
Joe smiles. “Yeah. Crews stayed one day, then left and never came back. According to the locals, the place is haunted.”
She arches a brow. “Haunted?”
Joe waves a hand as if shooing a fly. “Rumours. Old people’s tales. I mean, really old, with more snow on their pates than teeth in their mouths and brains in their heads. They said the architect and his assistant vanished, like some of those who came to tear it down.” He opens the driver’s door and places one foot out. “You ask me, I say they all ran out of money, packed up, and left.” He gives her a toothy grin and steps outside.
Lucy takes a two-piece folding mirror out of her pocket and stares back at her curved nose, her complexion with as many imperfections as there are exes in her past. Ex-hairdresser, ex-phone saleswoman, ex-wife to an online scammer she married after a wild weekend in Vegas with a ton of booze and several snorts of the good white stuff. His treat.
Her gaze drifts back to the way they came, to the barely visible tree line that defines the main road. Then she eyes the dilapidated structure before her, and a weight settles on her chest.
If that enticed you enough to want to buy the story, you can do so from Amazon or if they’re not your favourite place to buy ebooks, try any of these retailers instead.
And if you do honour me with your purchase, why not share your thoughts about the story with other readers out there? You can do it by leaving a brief and honest review of what you read. Not only will it help me, but it will help others to find a story they might like (or stay away from, if you think it was bad).
On a side note, I have made some changes to my mailing list. Now, anyone who signs up for my monthly newsletters will receive a free short story! So, sign up here or try the link to the right (near the top of the page, under the search bar), and download your copy. Naturally, I won’t hold it against you if you choose to spread the news far and wide about the free story so others will know… 😉
“Oh, for the love of Holy Morhan, will you please stop thinking that there’s always something wrong?”
Jonas stuck his hands in his pockets, kicked a pebble, and lowered his head. “Something is wrong, though,” he muttered under his breath.
Pela rolled her eyes, sighed, and slapped her hands on her thighs. “You’re impossible. You know for once, just once, I’d like to hear something positive from you.”
They reached the edge of the forest at the top of the hill. Jonas stopped.
“Were your parents really cruel?” Pela asked and carried on walking on her own down the path. “Was it a hex one of the enchanters put on you, huh?”
“Did you pee on one as an infant?” Pela continued without paying attention to her surroundings.
“Pela?” Jonas insisted, still frozen in place.
“Did you accidentally fall into one of their cauldrons perhaps?”
“What?” She stopped and looked around her for Jonas. “What are you doing back there?”
Jonas jerked his chin at the hanging-upside-down citadel. “Is that wrong enough for you?”
“How does it feel to be a Methuselah, kid? Happy enough you ruined the last timeline? The Big Guy is pissed off. Actually, he’s fuming. He wants to talk to you. You know what this means. I’m sorry it came to this. You have until tomorrow.”
I figured I had a go with a funny prompt this Sunday. Not my usual style, but why not? I think it’s suitable for fantasy and humour writers alike. I hope it helps you create some nice stories.
“Ouch! Ow! You punched me in the nose! That hurts, you know.”
“What is the matter with you, human? I’m a friendly orc. Do you see me squashing your meaty parts ’til your eyes pop out? You wouldn’t like that, would you?”
“Hey, I have feelings too, okay? Just ’cause I’m an orc, doesn’t mean your words don’t hurt me. Or my nose. Look how swollen it is now.”