Excerpt from novel, The Curious Tube

Story is about a tube-shaped creature named Bann Tucker.  He is one of four beings assigned the task of caring for his tiny world.  His three mates are enthusiastic and kind.  The job is terribly pleasing.  His life is terribly pleasing.  To top things off, Ban has an invisible friend named “Aeir,” who keeps things even more pleasing.   One day Aeir challenges Bann to leave his friends behind and explore the universe.  In the process, he meets a monster who tries to eat him before offering friendship.  


Bann, that there is a Killer Bubble.

“Its teeth are awfully sharp.”

I suggest you swim as fast as you can.

The creature caught up quickly enough.  It did its best to wrap its teeth around Bann – and eventually swallowed him whole.  Bann had never been swallowed before.  He wasn’t sure he liked the experience.  Luckily the creature’s stomach didn’t find him all that tasty: the Killer Bubble spat him out, a disgusted look on its face.  Bann was tossed back to shore.  The meeps meeped happily to see him again.  They didn’t like the water.

Bann hugged himself with his antennae.  He wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry.  “Aeir, you could have warned me about that Killer Bubble a little sooner.”

No harm done.  You survived, didn’t you?

“That monster is looking at me.  I think it’s upset.”

Yeah, I was going to warn you about that too.

“Seems the monster wants to talk to me.”

Great.  Killer Bubbles are excellent conversationalists.

“You mean when they aren’t busy trying to eat me?”

The Killer Bubble slid up onto the shoreline.  Vicious teeth, large eyes, rounded body, it opened its mouth and spurted a few words: “You taste awful.”

Excerpt from novel, The Virus Hunter

THE VIRUS HUNTER

As a youth, Kevian (the King’s youngest son) accidently poisoned the heir to the throne, his brother.  What followed was a harrowing affair: the poison didn’t kill the future king but rendered him too miserable and sickly to ascend the throne.

Filled with shame, Kevian abandoned his family, choosing instead a life of squalor and humility — making sure his family can’t find him.  

Fifteen years later he is arrested and forced to stand before the King for sentencing — only to be recognized by everyone in the court. 

Here are two excerpts.


The Job

I got to work a few seconds late, just before they locked the front door. The line was long, at least thirty people ahead of me, all of us waiting for our assignment of the day.  Forty minutes later it was my turn. I knew the routine. I offered a fake fingerprint and watched as the clerk reviewed my paperwork.

“Kedd Felton?”

That wasn’t my real name. “Yes, sir.”

“Hunter?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Ten percent of your last paycheck has been deducted, due to (1) late return of ship times one, and (2) bent wall antenna #3775404 on Floor 327, Satellite 43. Is that clear?”

“Yes, sir. I understand, sir.”

The clerk threw a quick glance in my direction, stamped a dozen stampable things, and handed me a slip of paper. “Your ship is at Gate #2365 on the left…Ship #555666544. Assignment is on paper. Have the ship back by six.”

“Yes, Sir. Thank you, Sir.” Humility was my friend. Like the jacket, it kept me safe, unnoticed.


The Crew

Over the next week Sedinil introduced me to her gang of misfits.

The first was an octopus-like being named Flasterginusblot. He was second mate and of all things a mechanic, like me, with an engineering background.  Didn’t talk much but monitored my every move.

There were three women – triplets – slightly overweight but fit with warm-scented faces, the kind that left you gasping for air if you got too close.  Their arms were stunning.  Apparently they worked as arm models in fetish movies, and I could see why.  They were experts in life support regulation.

The final two members of the team were stick-men: human heads and torsos, arms too, but everything below the waist was all trunk and branches. Interesting to behold. Though they didn’t appreciate my staring. Their expertise: politics, history, and sociology.  Somehow that would come in useful.

This was the crew who would help me save the world?  I had my doubts.  But Sedinil believed in her gang, and since she was my only friend (and ally), that meant I had to believe in them too.


 

Alex Natalian is a penname for psychiatrist KRR.Alex Natalian, Psychiatrist and Author

Excerpt from novella, The Forbidden Fortress

THE FORBIDDEN FORTRESS: this is a strange little story where everything is off-kilter: seems reality is collapsing, and no one knows why.  Even the gods aren’t sure.

Here are two short excerpts.


The gods, many years ago, took it upon themselves to create the Fortress, something so stunning and expansive and exquisitely complex that when they were finished they locked themselves and all of civilization inside and misplaced the key.  It was a hefty piece of business — divided into 472 sectors, ranging from 40 to 1642 floors in height, housing 98 intelligent species — and included 675 elevator-trains, 287 schools, 29 universities, 82 lakes, 60 flea-markets, and 350 casinos.  No one had ever stepped outside the walls of the Fortress.  Indeed, there was no outside.

When Ivan hears a voice telling him it’s time to leave the Fortress, he knows it’s time to visit the gods for answers.  But visiting the gods isn’t the easiest of tasks. And the gods aren’t always that forthcoming.


 

The “sit here if you want to see a god” chair

“I’m having second thoughts about whatever it is I’ve agreed to do,” Linok said.

Ivan examined the chair.  “Crapping gods, I hate this.”

“It’s probably not a good idea to offend the gods, you know, especially just before you meet them.”

“I’m scared!  It’s not my fault if I sound offensive.  Now don’t go anywhere.  And shut up.  I need to concentrate.”

Linok watched as Ivan slipped into the chair.  It responded promptly by twisting into coils and encircling Ivan’s body.  Gears clicked into place, and then it happened: the chair fell 12,000 feet, leaving Linok far, far away.

Ivan’s head seemed to explode, the G-forces of the fall incomprehensible.  Painful, too.  The human found himself immersed in a lake of hot fluid.  Before him writhed a dark creature, a thousand times darker than the darkness of night, and it leaned forward and blinked a massive eye as it examined the human.

Ivan. I’d expected you sooner.  The voice was fierce. It rang in his head, louder than his own thoughts.  Noisy.  Too noisy.  You must leave the Fortress at once.

“Is that even possible?”

We don’t know.

“Then why you forcing me to leave?  And why does it have to be me?  You can send anyone you want to, so can’t you just tell…”

It has to be you.

“What kind of answer is that?”  Ivan’s fear made him angry.  “How can you tell me I have to leave everything and everyone I know, like that, without an explanation?”

The god didn’t answer.

“And up until now, you’ve made it illegal to try to leave.  What’s that about?”

You would not understand.

“Friggin crud, of course I wouldn’t!  Are there any questions you can answer?”

Have some respect, human.

“Or what?  You’ll kill me?  I’m dead one way or the other.  And…  hey, stop that!”

The god had drifted forward and was busy enveloping him, as the universe would envelope a speck of dust.  I wish you strength, human.

“This ain’t fair.”

I will help you.  You may call me Zeus.

“Zeus, really?  Is that supposed to be funny?”

Time is running out.  You must go.

“There has to be someone better fitted for…”

That was it.  The god disappeared.  The interview was over.

“Hey, but…”  Ivan didn’t have time to finish: the chair  bolted upward suddenly, 12,000 feet, leaving him where he started.

Linok was waiting for him.  “You splat of a filthy rug, I never would have agreed to let you do this, and you’re covered in goo and you know I don’t like sticky surfaces, and…”  Linok stopped in mid-sentence.  “Ivan, your hands.  What happened to your hands?”

“Never mind.  Let’s get out of here.  Now.”

Movement was painful, but Ivan was happy to leave the god’s chair behind.

They camped in a deserted elevator car that night.  Ivan was weak.  He couldn’t do much but talk and smoke cigarettes.  Linok grumbled and searched his bags thoroughly without success: no pipe.  But he found a potato, which the friends roasted over a campfire.

“He calls himself Zeus?”

“Yes,” Ivan said, scratching his nose.  “Narcissistic son of a bitch.”


Ivan’s sidekick, Sebastian the Rat Man

Sebastian was a short squat of a man.  Even at full height he reached little over three feet.

His race (called “Rat Men”) were allergic to air: in the presence of carbon dioxide, their skin welted into green bubbles, and, when the bubbles popped, the odor was very embarrassing.

Despite the technical and biological genius inherent in his species,  Sebastian’s people had never found a way to overcome this allergy.  They’d settled for second best.  They wore “anti-carbon-dioxide” suits.   Two canisters pumped nitrous oxide into the ensemble, causing the suit to balloon into unsettling proportions, and with the long exhaust pipe that trailed behind, their aspect coincided with that of a rodent.  Hence, the unfortunate name, Rat People.


Alex Natalian, Psychiatrist and Author

Alex Natalian is a penname for psychiatrist KRR.

Excerpt from novel, The Scholar Gypsy

This was my first novel.  It started with Mathew Arnold’s poem, “The Scholar Gypsy.”  The poem is about a college student who gives up his studies to pursue a nomadic gypsy life, looking to learn things he would never find in books.  I loved the idea: what followed was this story.  It’s a tragic tale.  Downright morose.   Almost comical at times. 

Main characters include the Professor, Philosopher, Poet, Pre-med Student, Cook, and a pretty woman who gets murdered.  The Professor disappears.  The Cook does too.  The Philosopher, Poet, and Pre-Med Student aren’t happy about being left behind.  They decide to abandon their studies to search for everyone who is missing, hoping to find the professor, solve the pretty woman’s murder…  Or have some fun, at least.  It’s a bumpy ride.  The car breaks down, the Poet talks too much, an old lady need help catching her chickens, the Cook offers a morose confession that has nothing to do with the pretty woman’s death — and of course there’s a gang of nomadic gypsies too. 

You’ll find two excerpts below. 


536

Sean, the Philosopher

This is how, at half past five in the morning, the companions found themselves drunk and stoned and sleeping – with the exception of Sean, who had chronic insomnia. Sean was stuck: his mind has been whirring for hours. It wouldn’t stop. He had suffered bouts of depression as far back as he could remember. Tonight was no different. The philosopher brooded silently. The clock struck six in the morning.

The problem: Sean needed to determine whether God existed.

Sean sighed, a sudden idea, marvelous idea: why not ask God to tell Sean once and for all if He existed? If Sean didn’t get an answer (plague, lightning bolt, itchy skin), that meant either (1) God didn’t exist, or (2) God wasn’t interested in Sean Manwood and therefore wasn’t worth believing in.

I doubt He’ll oblige. That was the mean part of his brain talking.

That would prove He doesn’t exist, he answered himself.

You’re pathetic.

I am pathetic.

Well?

That was it: starting now, six o’clock, Friday morning, Sean would cease to believe in God until He let Sean know otherwise.  A marvelous strategy.

And now we’re going to wait, Sean told himself.

We’re waiting.

Sean waited for God’s answer. The land didn’t darken. The rain didn’t stop. A thunderbolt of energy didn’t strike him dead. There was no response. Perhaps somewhere a child drowned and a mother lay nearby whimpering on her knees (Sean liked gory images), but the Philosopher saw and felt nothing.

That was that.

It’s over?

Yeah, he answered himself.

Sean smiled proudly. He was free. He knew the truth. Okay, he was miserable, too. He had nothing to live for, and he smiled again, this time overcome with nausea. What was the point?

Another disturbing question.

Do something useful, his mind told him.

A few minutes later he found himself kneeling over the child. Freddy had fallen asleep on the couch. Sean carried the boy back to his room. Freddy whimpered against the Philosopher’s shoulder.

“It’s okay,” Sean whispered.

Freddy sighed sleepily as children do, complaining of sleep and thirst and funny dreams, and Sean listened emphatically and nervously, puzzling extensively over every child-related word and question that rose up in his mind. Why would someone molest a child? He carried the boy until his arms and back hurt. The intimacy calmed his nerves. It was a long trek to the third floor of the right wing of this overgrown building, but eventually Sean found the child’s bedroom.

“Good night,” he said, tucking Freddy into bed.

He didn’t leave.

Now Sean’s smile was awkward. With a bump his knee hit the bed frame of the bed, causing the child to stir in his sleep. The Philosopher distanced himself from the bed. He watched, lost but devoted, and backing up farther, he buried himself against the wall, amidst the darkest of shadows. He slid to the ground, his knees bent and pulled up against his chest, his body shivering, and his mind crushed like a ghost lost in some ever-going consideration of its misplacement. He watched without watching. The gray silhouette of his head was rigid against the wall in a desperate, quiet gaze — at nothing. At one point his eyes darted across the room looking for something he couldn’t find. For the most part he sat still and waited, staring, and his face reflected a bitter calmness.

Finally the Philosopher shrunk back to the library.


442

Oliver, the Cook.

Slanted room, before him a slanted bed, right foot first, followed by left foot…a sense of awe…there she lay, gracefully flowing across the sheets, asleep, breathing peacefully. Was that a noise in the closet? No, she was alone. Francis always slept in short, silky, white garments. She was terribly feminine. Her bare arms lay above her head with delicately curled fingers. Her legs were long and muscular, bare, her skin smooth and milky white.

Gently Oliver sat beside her sleeping figure. A surge of feeling, physical feeling, plunged through his belly. Might I? He could imagine his wife’s body quivering beneath his lips, beneath his fingers, calling for more, wanting him like she wanted all her other men. Oliver sighed.

He thought about leaving, then changed his mind. “Francis?”

She smiled. Her eyes opened immediately. They always did, alert and slightly scary.  Francis smiled at him. “Yes, sweets?”

Oliver glanced at his wife’s abdomen and hesitated before talking to her eyes. “I miss you,” he said.

“Do you, baby?”

“Francis, I want to…need to…”

He couldn’t say it. Francis laughed. Oliver wasn’t sure what was so funny, but he was used to Francis’ bouts of merriment. He sighed. He smiled despite himself.

“You’re drunk,” she said.  “You know I don’t like you when you’re drunk.”

“I need to…need to…”

“You need to be more assertive?” she giggled.

“I’m sorry.”

“Come back tomorrow then?  Try again?”

Oliver looked away, ashamed his wife would see him this way.  He glanced again at the closet, thoughtful, searching for the right words, something to make him worthy.  He found no such words.

“I’ll let you sleep,” he said finally and slipped out of the room before she could change his mind.

Excerpt from novel, Solstice Twilight

432A dying man receives a summons written 100 years before he was born.  He must travel across the globe to reach a faraway town called Solstice.

You’ll find several excerpts below.


This story is about escape, a journey into the world of magic and witchcraft, and so far I have traveled a thousand miles. I am not alone; the Red Man follows me, always watching, always there, and for all my attempts to talk to him, the man refuses contact. I don’t know why he follows.


The path continued to wind downhill, with inclines suited for the fit, not the dying. My emotions curled left and right, a bright euphoria wracking my brain, and my mouth talked despite me, rambling on about philosophies and welcome death, my mind an uncommon commotion of excitement without cause.  I remembered something I failed to remember. Or something forgotten I couldn’t forget.

The path descended into fog. It was a wet fog, warm despite the cool wind brushing against me, bringing back memories of the sea.

The town Solstice was near.

I paused to catch my breath, tightening my jacket before forcing myself to continue.

The world cracked in lighted torment: a thunderstorm?

Ahead stood a man, at his hand three leashes with three great dogs.

“How far is it to Solstice?” I said. I had sought out the man with fury, and the sight of me must have scared him, for he blinked strangely and looked at his dogs. “The town, man, where is the town?”

Finally he pointed at the black horizon, a darkness lit by exploding fists of light. I continued – half-expecting to find the town besieged by hysteria and war.

No, these were fireworks. A celebration. Solstice.

Excerpt from novel, Asturias

ASTURIAS is a province in Spain, the place where I accidently fell in love with my husband.

Here are two excerpts:


I had known for a long time that I wanted a life alone.  That was everything.  There was a magic about existence, an undervoice, and I had sacrificed love for that magic.  I did not want a boyfriend.  I did not want sex.  I did not want friends.  I was meant to become the first female Catholic priest (dismissing the fact that I was not Christian).  My calling was one of silent reflection.  Then I saw this sweet boy and thought, my God, he’s beautiful.


086La Playa Otur is a valley of rocks where the river reaches the sea.  The river flows through the rocks, underneath, and one can cross the rocks without getting wet, at least until the tide is high and fierce.  There are men fishing and children collecting stones.  An old woman is watching me.  I am a stranger.  That is not a good thing.  I hide away.  It’s a comfortable spot, this hiding place: I lie across the face of a large rock and listen to the ocean click-click-click as it carries the stones back and forth.  Sleep takes over.  I am awoken by Angelin, who’d arranged to meet me here.  He is two hours late.

“Wait here,” he says, and disappears again.  I climb down from my hiding space and watch him.  Angelin is busy running left and right amidst the shrubbery.  His head pops up at odd intervals to grin in my direction, only to disappear and appear again twenty feet away.  I am afraid he is up to something distasteful.

“What are you doing?”

Estropeando la naturaleza,” he says.  “Ruining nature.”

Finally he is finished.  He leads me to a patch of open field.  There he has collected a thousand flower petals and – meticulously – placed them across the ground to read two words:  TE AMO.  I love you.  His eyes shine brightly, and I chuckle.

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