Friday, December 20, 2013

Announcements for 2014

Looking back on the year, I'd have to say it was pretty productive.  January of 2014 I'm planning on putting Our War with Molly Nayfack up for sale on Amazon.  I've developed both as a writer and a graphic designer quite a bit over the past year, but you're not here to listen to me jaw about myself.  Here's what to expect in the early days of 2014.

 Our War with Molly Nayfack will weigh in at a little over 109,000 words.  It follows the story of Cairo, a small town of around 600 people minus one.  Ten years ago they lost their only way back home, the DC tunnel.  They've learned to adapt, living off the supplies left behind in the vast wealth of the warehouse with the small-town guidance of Sherrif Paul Rind and Mayor Clayton Sugarhill.

But when an accident at the airfield calls deputy Jessica Myer to action, she soon finds herself involved in a conspiracy that runs to the heart of her sleepy town.  And there's a name that keeps coming up, a story of a girl who wandered into those woods at the edge of the town's clear cut line and never came back.  Her name is Molly Nayfack.  It's a name that might end the world.

Our War with Molly Nayfack is a terrifying novel of twists and turns following an intimate sort of betrayal.  It's not a book about murder, or torture, or revenge.  It's a book that asks what we would do if left to our own devices in a world where there was no one to answer to, nothing to stop us from looking into the dark eyes of oblivion and seeing if that reflection looks anything like us.

If you had asked old Ned Daffy, or Mayor Sugarhill, or Grandma MacReady who the shape was, in an instant they would have said Mark Newmann.  Sure, he married Andrea Newmann and lost his daughter Delia last year to some wasting disease.  Sad story.  They would likely have said those exact words.  But the crows in the tree, the ones that had known by instinct the difference between man and scarecrow, were staring at him crouched down and smiling to himself as he traced circles in the dust.
The crows considered him with wide black eyes.  For once in the collected history of Cairo they looked and they didn't know if this man that knelt beneath them was a man or a scarecrow.  Something was missing.  Something vital.  They hopped on nervous feet, clinging to the branch and making frightened muted chirps as they saw desperate reflections in each other's eyes.  There was something not there, something their obsidian sights searched for.  But all they could see, all they could smell, was a hole standing where a person should be.
This scarecrow walks.  This scarecrow can see us.
It looked up at them smiling and whistling once before casting its dark eyes down the train tracks and asking,
"Where do you suppose we're going now?"

Beware the Well Fed Man, some 25,000 words long, is the first novella in a series following Ebon the Waste.  Carved from the remnants of a long dead world, Ebon has only two things driving him to draw his footprints from one day to the next.  The first is the safety of his brother Crassus.  The second is the search for home.  And when he and his brother find a massive thirty story tall technological wonderland, he knows fate has given them both.  But what they find inside is so much more than just a house.  They find a connection to the past, a family they thought impossible.

But there are other things in the wasteland intent on taking it from them.  Like the masters of the great walking cities.  As the terrifying armies descend on the tribe's stronghold, they are given a choice.  Give up your home and return to the waste, or watch your tribe ripped to shreds with terrifying cruelty.

And so Ebon is faced with a choice that cuts to the very core of his tribe's identity.  How many compromises are you willing to make to secure your safety?  What monster might you call friend if it meant survival?

The darkness slowly receded in a small alley between two diminished foundations.  And there I saw the beast.  It was the head of a ripper dog staring with a sinister grin across its parody of a face.  Its silver eyes reflected the light of my fire back at me, piercing my throat with its gaze alone.

Behind it there was another, this one with a massive white stripe running up its nose.  Its yellowed teeth gleamed around its open mouth, like the stalactites of an ancient cavern.  It was a cavern where death lived.  Another ripper dog was behind these two, lying playfully on its side, prepared to tear life out of me to sustain itself.  Two more eyes leered from the shadows beyond.  I raised the rifle, my breath suffocating in the chilled night air.  My heart was thumping like the drums of the northern death cults.

It was thumping, racing to carry terror through every limb.

My lungs argued, tried to pull air in and exhale at the same time, instead seizing in my tightened throat.  I raised the rifle to the sky and pulled the trigger, murdering the stillness of night, ripping the silence open with a bullet.

They didn't move.

What Do You Suppose the Horses Know?  That's the question the insane cigar smoking man asked Adon Still before they tossed him on the back of a modified horse and sent him into the wasteland.  His mission is simple.  They want an object from before the war.  Something that's been building onto itself in the deep heart of space.  And if he doesn't do it, they kill is bride.

Adon Still isn't some unstoppable war machine.  He's not a hero destined to save the world.  And as far as scruples go, he's a cold blooded killer.  But when a bullet knocks him down in a world without doctors, he's forced to ask himself how far he's willing to go to beat the clock and save the only bit of decency he's ever seen in this world.

What would you do to save the person you loved?  Would you tear yourself apart?  Would you kill a man?  Would you descend into a nightmarish world that had evolved beyond the need for reason?  For Adon Still, the answer is yes.

"What is that thing?" I shouted, my own voice muted in the roar of the wind.  He must have heard me, because I saw him shaking his head, tugging at the rope that led down into the shadow below.  Again I shouted, my hands occupied with hat and cane, "What does this mean?"

"It's in there, Adon!" Ebon called back, pointing with a shaking hand toward the hole, "Don't ask me what it is, but it's in there!"

"Has this always been here?" I called back to Freezy as she descended behind us.  Her eyes were squinting against the dust, a bit of silk in her hand, covering her face.
"No," she called back as we surrounded the metal spool leading toward the hole.
"We're going to have to go in there," Ebon said, quietly now that we were close together again, "It's in that damned hole, whatever it is."

Up on the hill Delphina was still standing looking down at us, glaring down into the tumbling Earth.  Freezy Breezy looked back at the hole, the wind playing a thunder across it like a man blows on the lid of a glass bottle.  I noticed it too.  It was screaming, that open hole in the Earth, crying out into a hot and unfeeling dry rain.

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