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June 1, 2012 — 467 words

Oink! by Abhishek Chaswal

By

One day, three years into The Impending Doom that looms over us all in the form of the persistent famine poised to completely wipe out what remains of this barren blob of despair we once called the blue orb, Fatty, the junk dealer’s little secret, shat something that smelt strangely familiar.

He doesn’t know why even after Our Great Server classified all arable land, plants and animals under ‘Food’, and declared the possession of any of these precious items the world’s most heinous crime, the junk dealer could neither let go of the pig nor eat it.

Everyone knows what becomes of those who hoard food. Still, why he willingly risks his life every day, and even shares his daily ration with the pig, he doesn’t know for sure.
The pig gives him hope he feels. There’s something in its eyes that tells him life will find a way. He didn’t know how, till this day.

Hesitatingly, he picks up the fresh turd from the basement floor where he keeps the pig, and brings it close to his nose. His eyes swell in amazement as his mind makes the connection. It smells exactly like the sliver of chicken he shared with the pig last night. Next, he does the unthinkable and finds it unbelievably same in taste too. It’s not like chicken. It is chicken! Almost out of his wits now, he hugs and kisses the pig excitedly. The pig, confused, responds noisily. He immediately tightens the muzzle on its mouth. But it’s too late.

It takes him a minute to realise the knock on the door is for real. He quickly hides the pig and tip-toes out of the basement to find his worst fear standing at the door.

‘Is everything okay sir?’, the face behind the mask barks.

The junk dealer’s mouth opens in a blank. He’s really sure he’s said something like a ‘Yes’ but doesn’t hear it. It feels like a hungry void ate his words as soon as they came out.

‘Is everything okay, sir?’ the voice of the Food Police Officer echoes in his head this time.

He clears his throat. Still no sound. It’s now that he realises he’s no longer in control and drops down like dead meat.

*    *   *

Abhishek Chaswal is the founder and worldwide creative director at BrandNewWordOrder. An indie-minded communication design space, BrandNewWordOrder was formally established in 2012 after years of being engaged in the world’s 2nd oldest profession. The lovechild of words in play, it picks up threads from music, books, cinema, art and life to stitch together seemingly silly sensible stuff that’s sometimes twisted to a tee! For more, visit brandnewwordorder.wordpress.com.

June 1, 2012 — 289 words

Chapter 18p4 – Just Go

By Tim Sevenhuysen

Tic massaged his temple with his fingertips. "Uuuurgh. I can't believing I'm saying this, but Milly, I get the feeling I'm not going to stop you from doing what you want, so go get your parents. Mak, help her out. Haglyn and I will track down Dunter and Libden."

"Are you sure splitting up is a good idea?" said Milly. "If we all rescue my parents together, they might be able to help us find—"

"By the time we get them, our real targets might've already flown the coop," snarled Tic. "Don't give me time to change my mind. Just go!"

Milly snapped her mouth shut, flashed Tic a parting glare, and sprinted away. Overard hesitated.

"I told you to go with her," said Tic.

"I know, but maybe you should've—"

"And don't you dare let her get hurt."

Overard arched his eyebrows in surprise. "...Yeah. Yeah, okay." He headed off in pursuit of Milly.

"For the record," said Haglyn, watching them dash into an elevator, "I think you handled that really, really poorly."

"Shut up," growled Tic. He couldn't shake the feeling that this was all going wrong. Why had he let himself get sucked in? What he wouldn't give for some peace and bacon... He stepped onto the back of Haglyn's GyroCart and she zipped them to a control panel, where Tic opened the hangar roof to let the Pelican out. Then the two old friends rolled out of the docking bay into a narrow hallway, where they found a storage closet and a service elevator. The lights above the elevator doors said it was rising towards them.

"So?" said Haglyn. "Got a plan?"

"Not really. You?"

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May 31, 2012 — 395 words

MERGE #4: Sparks and Tinder
by AM Harte

By 1889 Labs

(Pst! Don't know what MERGE is? See the introductory post!)

Day 4 of the MERGE blog tour... and the last release of this week!

We've at 150 entries into the grand prize giveaway. Will YOU be the one to walk away with a brand new iPad?

Yesterday MCM traumatized readers with his ooze-tacular guest post -- whether his post is FACT or FICTION is for you to decide.

Today we're revealing the fourth MERGE storyline... hold onto your hats!

Today's Release!

Sparks and Tinder by AM Harte

Kate thought she was safe, but she was wrong.

The death of a transhuman has sparked riots in the city, only minutes from her front door. Policemen guard every street corner, but there is no one to protect Kate from herself, and the danger may be closer to home than expected...

Is she really safe from the transhumans, when her newest neighbour might be one of them?

Set in a world reeling from the discovery of transhumans, MERGE is a series of thirteen short stories that charts the loves, the betrayals, and the struggle for survival in a world where humans and transhumans are uneasy neighbours. Tensions are high, riots are brewing. The human race is about to come undone.

Buy it today on Kindle!

Win an iPad!

Have you entered to win that iPad?! Just fill out the easy rafflecopter widget below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Look out tomorrow for an exclusive sneak peek of Long Way Down by Yvonne Reid... plus another chance to win that iPad.

May 31, 2012 — 310 words

Chapter 18p3 – Clear a Path

By Tim Sevenhuysen

Tic said, "Haglyn: let's clear a path." He brought up the vacuum generator controls, and Haglyn readied the turrets. They began laying waste to the docking bay: ships and equipment imploded within the flaring vacuums and exploded under the turrets' assault. Goons and Liberati alike fled the docking bay for safety.

Overard grinned. "That's one way to make an entrance."

Tic set the Pelican down. "Move quick, folks. Won't take them long to send reinforcements."

Milly said, "Maybe you should've thought about that before so obviously declaring our presence..."

"I did," said Tic. "This way their attention is divided between us and the yetis down below. Otherwise our furry friends wouldn't stand half a chance."

"I... Oh," said Milly.

"Mak's idea, actually," said Tic. Overard shrugged modestly.

They piled out. Overard spotted some discarded blasters and distributed them.

"Okay, we'll head out that way," said Tic, pointing out an archway on the opposite side from where most of the pilots and mechanics had exited. "Gal: we'll open the roof for you again. Keep cloaked and keep moving. Don't get detected. You're our only real escape route."

"Yes, sir!" said the Pelican's chipper new AI.

The group headed for the archway, Haglyn carefully picking her way across the rubble-strewn floor in her GyroCart.

"Dunter and Libden will probably be overseeing this all from a secure control room, probably on one of the upper floors," said Overard. "How much do you remember of the building's layout?"

"Hold on," cut in Milly. "My parents are in the labs below the detention block. We should be heading straight down there."

"They're not our first priority," explained Tic.

"Not your priority, maybe! They're the reason any of us got involved in this! I'm going down there, one way or another."

"Urgh," said Tic.

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May 30, 2012 — 553 words

MERGE #3: Everything Must Go by MCM

By 1889 Labs

(Pst! Don't know what MERGE is? See the introductory post!)

Day 3 of the MERGE blog tour... and time to introduce our THIRD author... who also happens to be the only male on the team!

With over 100 entries into the into the grand prize giveaway for a brand new iPad, MERGE is getting more exciting by the second!

Yesterday's review of Long Way Down by Yvonne Reid was the first reader reaction -- and we're over the moon! You're still in time to leave a comment and win ANY 1889 book of your choice!

So what do we have happening today?

The MERGE blog tour!

For the third stop of our blog tour, we're swinging by Attack of the Book for probably THE most insane guest post of the tour.

Honestly. MCM wrote a guest post on how to accidentally create a series, detailing the origins of MERGE. Do you believe him? Or do you think he's telling LIES?

Check out his guest post to decided for yourself... and remember to leave a comment for ANOTHER chance to win that iPad!

Don't forget to grab his story, Everything Must Go, from the Kindle store!

Today's Release!

Everything Must Go by MCM

Hey there good sir! Can I interest you in some werewolf kidneys? I'll throw in some eyeballs if you buy two jars!

Transhumanism isn't just about monsters and hunters, politics and genocide, or even the human angle. Transhumanism has a true dark side, and it is bureaucracy. Robin Lancaster is the only thing standing between society and absolute anarchy... if he can just keep up with his quota for the day.

Set in a world reeling from the discovery of transhumans, MERGE is a series of thirteen short stories that charts the loves, the betrayals, and the struggle for survival in a world where humans and transhumans are uneasy neighbours. Tensions are high, riots are brewing. The human race is about to come undone.

Buy it today on Kindle!

Win an iPad!

Don't forget to keep the rafflecopter widget updated, or we won't know you've entered the competition!

And remember to check back often. Nearly every day, we'll update the widget to link to our blog tour stops -- your first comment on each blog post is worth ONE entry!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ZOOP!

May 30, 2012 — 1,101 words

Going Dark by Tonya R. Moore

By

Dran's sphere flickered then steadily started to glow. Finally, the signal was strong enough for live-talk again.

His frantic fingers fumbled with the awkward device. "Wheela!" he urged. "Answer already!"

"Well, hello to you too, Dran." His partner's voice was hoarse, irritated and for some reason, it seemed talking was taking monumental effort. "Yell all you want. It's been a really shitty couple of days and I'm just glad to hear another human voice."

His bushy brows arced but before he could say anything, she laughed weakly and corrected herself. "You’ll do, at any rate."

Dran grimaced. "You sound like--"

"What?" Wheela cut in. "Death?"

Something manic in her voice suggested that this was exactly how dire her situation had become.

Biologists in the service of the Expeditionary Council, Dran and Wheela were partners combing remote regions of the galaxy for new and lost life forms. Two years earlier, the fauna populating a moon dubbed Echo Forty Five had been their target but before their ship could make landfall, it had been blown to bits by the hostile denizens of the planet closest to the sun.

They'd barely made it to their escape pods. Dran's had malfunctioned, sent him wheeling off course and into the atmosphere of E45's diminutive neighbor. They'd landed worlds apart and stranded to boot.

The hapless pair struggled survive and made do without the comforts of their dearly departed ship. E45's rotation only allowed for communication during what counted as twilight--Dran's time each day. Wheela had skipped the last two days. Now it seemed he hadn't been wrong to fear the worst.

"O wise and stalwart Fawn," the droll prod after a few moments of stunned silence from Dran. "This is the part where you offer up great words of encouragement."

"What happened?"

"Tangled with a dyvik. Can you believe it? They actually still exist! This one," she drew in a long breath as her words became slower and more deliberate. "This beast. Its head came all the way up to my chest. Had coiled horns like a Fawn with really bad fashion sense--"

"Are you ever going to let me live that down?"

She giggled, uncharacteristically. The sound was smoky and girlish. It made his gut tingly.

"Listen Dran," she sobered. "They're predatory and they seem to really like the smell of blood. They're clever and they hunt in tightly organized groups. Their teeth are huge. Razor sharp. They cut into flesh and bone like..." Her words trailed off.

The thought of her going quiet on him again was maddening. "How badly are you hurt?"

"Badly enough," came her strained reply. "Dran, it hurts to talk."

It was selfish wanting to keep her talking for as long as possible; no matter how much more painful it made her passing.

Huddled by his feeble fire, the Fawn scowled at the darkening water. Only today, he wasn't staggered by the sheer beauty of the panorama laid out before him. Where water met sky, there loomed the ghostly shadow of the massive moon. It seemed so close, like he could just reach out and touch it. The illusion only served to make him so much more conscious of his utter uselessness.

She was over there somewhere, his friend. She was on the ground, drenched in her own curdling blood and there was nothing he could do about it. The voice on the radio was tinny, both the signal and the human losing strength.

A high pitched wail pierced the air. It was a savage sound, full of malevolence and hunger.

“Wheela?" Dread pooled into his gut. "What was that? It sounded awfully close."

"It's nothing." She was lying. He knew it in his gut. "In any case, I got some really amazing footage."

"You weren't supposed to go off on your own!" He charged.

"This moon is an ecological treasure trove. Did you really expect me just sit around twiddling my thumbs until help arrives? Is that what you've been doing over there, all this time?"

"No but--"

"Let me guess; it's perfectly fine for you, oh massive and mighty specimen of a fawn and I'm just a dainty little--"

"Desert fairy?" He supplied with a grin.

"So help me if you put that on my tombstone, I will aggressively haunt you for all eternity."

Dran heard the pop of yet another pod of anesthetic gum. He cringed. That much and the compound was going to deaden her tongue for good. Well, not that it mattered now. He leaned back in his rickety make-shift chair. His fist tightened around the sphere.

"What should I tell Elsa?" Consideration was due to Wheela's contracted spouse of nearly one decade. "If I ever make it back home, that is."

"That's easy," Wheela sniffled. "Tell her what I always tell her. Be happy. Don't forget me."

"Ah, yes. I remember. The heroic stuff." A tiny smiled tugged at the corner of his mouth. "I might be able to pull that off. Not quite as neatly as you, though."

She only grunted. He heard rapid bursts of weapons fire. If he asked about it, she was only going to lie to him again. When she spoke again, a strangled sob had crawled into her throat and squatted there.

"Dran, do you still carry the rank of a priest?"

He squeezed his eyes shut and nodded. "Yes."

"Then forgive me," she coughed wetly and cleared her throat. "For leaving you with the burden of my passing."

This wasn’t exactly the time to quibble about Fawn religious custom, was it?

He leaned forward, firmly changing the subject. "Tell me more about the sky you see."

"Nothing to write home about, really. The same old stars doing the same old thing. It's as clear as crystal." Wheela's voice full of dazed wonder, sounded scratchy and so far away. "Not a cloud in sight."

Dran's agonized gaze drifted to the massive moon. He heard another round of gunfire as the orb in his palm lost its shimmer. He flung it aside, biting back a sudden and unreasonable surge of ire.

Twilight ended. Wheela's hemisphere spun too far away for radio transmission to be possible. When Dran's orb went dark, so had Wheela's. This time he knew, for good.

*    *    *

Tonya R. Moore is a Speculative Fiction writer residing in Manatee County, Florida. Her short stories have been published in various indie and digital publications including Kissed By Venus, Weaponizer, Purple Magazine, eFiction Magazine and recently, Writers on the Wrong Side of the Road anthology.

http://www.tonyamoore.com

May 30, 2012 — 304 words

Chapter 18p2 – We’re In

By Tim Sevenhuysen

"Recloak," ordered Tic. He arced the Pelican up and around, away from where the yetis were taking their stand with their slingshots and Gortinawa seeds. "Now, take some shots, Hagga."

Haglyn gripped the turret controls and found a target, squeezing off a rapid burst of lasers. Immediately, Tic zipped the Pelican away to a new location, a little closer to Dunter's HQ. Some of the enemy ships—the ones that weren't making active strafing passes on the yetis—swarmed over the area the Pelican's shots had come from, scattering some lasers around through empty air.

"Just like I thought," said Overard, watching. "They won't use their CloakBusters in the middle of a clustered battle. Too much chance of locking on to an ally."

"Perfect," said Tic. "Do it again, Hagga." They repeated the maneuver, darting here and there, always staying just on the periphery of the enemy's defensive swarm. The jets and Liberati fighters spread out more and more, trying to divide their attention between their invisible target and the yeti threat below.

"Come on, fat Lady," muttered Overard. "We know you've got some more... Ha! Here they come!" The hangars at the peak of Dunter's building had begun to open again, releasing more jets and fighters.

"Here we go," said Tic. Haglyn squeezed off one last stream of lasers, then Tic pointed the Pelican's nose straight at the hangars and hit the acceleration. They squeezed through just inside one hangar's retracting roof and came to a quiet hover over the docking bay. A score of Dunter's goons, overseen by several Liberati, were hurriedly preparing a few remaining jets for launch. In their urgency, they appeared oblivious to the cloaked intruder.

"We did it!" said Milly.

Tic nodded. "We're in."

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May 29, 2012 — 893 words

From Journalist to Novelist

By Guest Author

by Lauren Clark

As a broadcast journalist, you quickly learn that everything is about deadlines. There’s a deadline for the noon show, the 6 o’clock show, the ten o’clock, and so on. And not only do you have to complete your assignment, but the stories have to be accurate, compelling, and brief. Most of the time, my own stories were never longer than a minute and thirty seconds. That’s not much time to get in the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How!

After working in the television biz for six years, I became quite adept at completing assignments, writing down my script in the news van (going over bumps in the road), and typing at (a little under) the speed of light. Unless I wanted to look for a new career, there was no missing any deadlines, so I learned to work fast and smart.

When I decided to retire from the news desk, stay home with my children, and dip my toe into the author world, my experience as a journalist certainly came in handy. I could come up with a zillion ideas, I was disciplined enough to crank out several pages of manuscript in a day, and I could create fun and interesting characters.

On the flip side, I wasn’t used to working on a single project for longer than a day or two, so sitting down at a computer keyboard and working on the same story day after day was a challenge. Also, instead of the fun, noise, and excitement of the newsroom, I had my laptop and a tiny, quiet corner in my house. I’ll admit, my first attempts at novel writing were not pretty—meaning, I didn’t take the time to plot, I just sat down and wrote. My stories meandered and went in a million different directions, and when I tried to rein everything back in, I might as well have been trying to catch raindrops in a sieve.

After my first couple of tries, I had to completely re-think writing stories. I began to outline, I worked from note cards, and I had friends read what I’d written. (It still wasn’t pretty, but it was better!) For me, planning, outlining, and getting to know my characters BEFORE I started writing was the key. I’d never had this luxury in the news business, but it was crucial to getting a good story together.

I did make myself finish each manuscript (approximately 80,000 words). I do think completion is important, even if your novel will never see the light of day. There’s a huge sense of accomplishment when you can type ‘The End.’ It’s not a waste of time, I promise. You have to work through the terrible, awful first drafts. Otherwise, it’s too easy to give up. All that will get you is a bunch of ten thousand word drafts.

Of course, I still tend to be impatient and wish I could crank out three thousand words a day like Stephen King, but now that I am taking the time to plan, the actual writing part is much more fun. The added bonus is this:  the revising is a lot less painful. Think sweeping off your front porch with a broom rather than trying to use a toothpick.

So, did my experience as a journalist helped when it came to writing as an author? Again, the answer is yes, but it took being open to learning new methods and even greater discipline. The foundation is crucial—sentence structure, grammar, story structure—but the test is in your own tenacity. There’s no trick or shortcut. It’s about being in the chair, day after day, even when you don’t want to sit at your desk or you feel less than motivated. There’s no substitute for the hard work.

If you’re a writer, make time for yourself, also. Celebrate when you reach that 20,000 or 40,000 word milestone. Kiss your children, hug your parents, and smile at a stranger. People watch—it’s a great idea generator. Dream a little. Wonder ‘what if.’

Every day, I feel blessed and lucky to be an author. And I will keep doing the hard work, because I wouldn’t trade the life of a writer for the world.

About Lauren Clark

Lauren Clark writes contemporary novels set in the Deep South; stories sprinkled with sunshine, suspense, and secrets. She is the author of Stay Tuned and Dancing Naked in Dixie (May 21, 2012 release date, Amazon).  

A former TV news anchor, Lauren adores flavored coffee, local book stores, and anywhere she can stick her toes in the sand. Her big loves are her family, paying it forward, and true-blue friends. Check out her website at www.laurenclarkbooks.com. You can also find Lauren on GoodReads, Twitter, and Facebook.

May 29, 2012 — 579 words

MERGE #2: Long Way Down by Yvonne Reid

By 1889 Labs

(Pst! Don't know what MERGE is? See the introductory post!)

Day 2 of the MERGE blog tour... and time to introduce our SECOND author!

We kicked off to a great start yesterday with over 60 entries into the grand prize giveaway for a brand new iPad!

Kit Iwasaki's guest post on All-Consuming Media brought smiles to faces -- if you haven't stopped by and left a comment, DO IT NOW! You want to win that iPad, don't you?

What can you expect today? Let me tell you....

The MERGE blog tour!

For the second stop of our blog tour, we're swinging by Black Sun Reviews for a review by awesome blogger Soleil Noir.

Soleil is reviewing the second story in the MERGE series, Long Way Down by Yvonne Reid, which is launching TODAY!

Check out her review today... and remember to leave a comment for ANOTHER chance to win that iPad!

You acn grab Long Way Down from the Kindle store!

Anyone who comments on Black Sun Reviews will ALSO be entered to win an 1889 Labs book of their choosing!

Today's Release!

Long Way Down by Yvonne Reid

Leo Harrison hunts fugitives for a living, and business is good.

So what if his soul is in danger?

Hunting transhumans is a hell of a job, where the tiniest misstep can cost you your life. When your prey is more dangerous than you are, how do you know where to draw the line? Harrison's got a good reputation, but every time he looks into the eyes of another mark, he has to wonder: if one of us has to die today, who should it be?

Set in a world reeling from the discovery of transhumans, MERGE is a series of thirteen short stories that charts the loves, the betrayals, and the struggle for survival in a world where humans and transhumans are uneasy neighbours. Tensions are high, riots are brewing. The human race is about to come undone.

Buy it today on Kindle!

Join the fun!

Want a chance to win that iPad? You know you do!

Enter the grand prize giveaway NOW by completing all the tasks in our fancy rafflecopter widget!

And remember to check back often. Nearly every day, we'll update the widget to link to our blog tour stops -- your first comment on each blog post is worth ONE entry!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What are you waiting for?

May 29, 2012 — 278 words

Chapter 18p1 – Hold On

By Tim Sevenhuysen

The Galactic Pelican hummed into life and rose into the air, shedding snow drifts from its wings. The sun was sinking lower in the frigid sky, and the rumblings of battle-eager yetis could be heard from the hold.

"Hold on back there, everyone," said Tic Bolter over the intercom. "Gal: hit the cloak."

 

The invisible Pelican coasted in over downtown and settled into a low hover above Haglyn's old pawn shop. The rear ramp whirred open, and Eilk's voice resounded: "Yetis! To war!"

A dozen of the massive beasts roared ferociously and leapt out onto the roof of the pawn shop, the tails of their red headbands flying in the wind.

The moment the ramp was shut, Tic sent the Pelican soaring into the sky and disengaged the cloaking field. Dunter's headquarters erupted into activity, spewing out jets and Liberati fighters like wasps from a hive.

Before the enemies could get into firing range, Tic headed back down over the city. The enemy ships gave chase, and Tic and the others watched through a rear-facing camera...

One by one, their pursuers began to fall from the sky, their cockpits, wings, and fuselages collapsing under a barrage of slingshot-propelled Gortinawa acid. In just one pass, the yetis took out five jets and three Liberati fighters.

"That'll divide their attention a little, eh?" smirked Overard.

"Looks like it," agreed Tic, watching as the rest of the enemy ships peeled off in disarray, seeking to escape the unexpected threat.

"The question is," said Milly, "will it be enough to get us inside?"

Tic gripped the control stick. "Let's find out..."

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