Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Sacrifice brings home the "Good"

My second novel, Sacrifice, has been awarded a "Good Writing Seal" by The indiePENdents, a nonprofit organization that promotes independently published books. Sacrifice is available as an ebook or paperback. Click on the title for's Kindle listing at 99¢.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Descent to the Bunker (Chapt. 32 - 1st draft)

Small pangs of dread began arcing through Geddes's intestines halfway down the seemingly endlessly spiraling concrete stairs. His first thought was that he might be experiencing a wave of vertigo or maybe a flashback from his own experience with Vulcana. He took several deep breaths, but the clammy feeling persisted. Probably the greater sense of depth into the Earth from the stairs. His only other visit to the bunker – that he knew of – had been by elevator with Ruth on her introduction to Camp David after the Inauguration.

Morowitz explained that he'd had the stairs installed because of his claustrophobic fear of elevators.

I've gotten it under control pretty much,” he told the others in the lodge's tool shed, where the staircase entrance was hidden, “but I don't want to come unglued in a crisis, and heading down there would mean we were in a pretty stressful situation, I figure...and, well, I guess you could call this a fairly stressful situation, too.”

He grinned sheepishly and turned his palms to his guests. “You can take an elevator if you like. There's one in here...that door there, looks like a closet.”

Ruth looked at others, shrugged. “I've never felt all that comfortable in elevators, either. Besides, I can use the exercise.”

And so the procession started, speechless at first, cautiously down the steep, narrow staircase, footwear scuffs on concrete steps. A pervasive alien mustiness pricked the nostrils with growing disfavor. Blue lights, strategically recessed along the descent in the rock-walled silo, glistened off the steel handrail creating an eerie surreality that seemed to mock the intruders with a discomfiting urgency. Morowitz explained that blue light was easier on his eyes at night. “Doesn't affect the pupils like white light does.

We keep it blue in the bunker, too, but can switch it up gradually to white if we're gonna be down there awhile. Sort of an artificial dawn...heh heh.”

Whether the blue light was what bothered Geddes it was definitely the light that replaced his anxiety with something new and truly frightful. He saw it in the way the light treated Ruth's eyes when he heard the shoe scuffing falter directly behind him. Leaning against the rail, he turned and braced himself in case Ruth had lost her balance. He found that she, too, was leaning and that her grip on the rail was so fierce her arm trembled. He took a step toward her and put his fingertips on her wrist.

He saw that her eyes were glazed in the way he'd learned to view with alarm. He saw them from an angle in which the light, refracting oddly within the unfocused lenses, magnified them to create the illusion of shimmering discs, electric versions of the empty ovals Orphan Annie and her dog Sandy presented as eyes in the comics.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bad Landing at Camp David (Chapt. 31 - 1st draft)

Marine One wobbled down through the thickening afternoon clouds and broke clear less than a thousand feet above Catoctin Mountain Park. The heavy copter skimmed over bristling forested terrain, slowing when the distinct contours of Camp David appeared. It eased into a hover before descending onto the concrete helipad where it made contact with an unpleasant thump.
“Don't tell me Maj. Erskine disrespects you, too?” Ruth said as the rotors wound down.
The president's sheepish grin and wagging head was answer enough, but he added, “I don't think so, Ruth, but I really don't know. Coincidentally they transferred the major awhile back, right about the time the paper started giving away those little magnifying glasses so people could see me in the cartoons. I think they use cadets to fly me now.”
Moments after the engines went silent the forward compartment door snapped open and a stocky young man in a shiny olive drab flight suit stepped into the passenger compartment. Without speaking he gave an impatient flap of his hand beckoning them to disembark. Ordinarily the other passengers would defer to the president to go first, but Morowitz nodded to Ruth, sitting nearest the door, to precede him.
She stood, turned and found herself staring into the young Marine's plump face. His jaw was moving slowly, rhythmically as if he were chewing gum, an act of insolence that by its mere suggestion sprayed a quart of psychic fuel onto her rage, ignited moments earlier by the clumsy landing. His facial muscles, working the gum, assumed the contours of a smirk that further aggravated the disrespect he conveyed. Ruth scanned the nonchalantly pulsing face until she came to a pair of cobalt eyes that peered through her without a glimmer of recognition she was there.
“Bring the pilot out here,” she snapped, glaring at the unseeing eyes. It wasn't until the Marine showed no reaction that Ruth noticed the twin white strings forking from a pocket in his jumpsuit and ending in each ear. The slap came without warning and with such fury it rocked the Marine on his heels and flung one of his earbuds with its tether onto his shoulder where it dangled, emitting the predictable cadence of a defiantly chattering hip hop cricket. Ruth reached up and jerked the other bud from its fleshy nest.
She said in a tight, hard voice, staring first at the nametag sewn into his flight suit then back into his now wide, startled eyes, “Henderson, huh? Well, Capt. Henderson, if you haven't heard the old infantry expression 'don't step on your dick', it's too late now. You've just jumped up and down on yours. Do you have any idea who your passenger is?”
“Whah, yes ah do, Miz Pres...”
“I'm not the president, you goddamned fool! The president is standing behind me...
“Ah'm aware...”
“If you were aware, Henderson, what were you doing chewing gum and listening to that shit you call music? Is this the kind of discipline they're teaching now in the Marine Corps?”
“No, my-em, ah shore do...”
“It's way beyond too late if you were thinking of apologizing, captain. You might as well kiss your career goodbye. If I had my way you'd be cooling your ass in the brig until I came up with a way to boot it out of the Corps for good.
“Speaking of asses, tell that incompetent pilot to get his out here right now!”
“Uh...yes'm...uh.” He lurched backward, bumping past the bulkhead, and stumbled toward the pilot's cabin. Ruth cursed when she saw him close the cabin door behind him. A heavy hand on her shoulder kept her from following him into the forward compartment.