Sunday, August 12, 2012

"The Coldest October" teaser

I've noticed something. I'm not writing nearly as many short stories as I used to. Even though I've been drawing more cartoons recently than I have in a while, I regret that I've done less short story writing. I'm going to focus on that for a while, especially since fall (my favorite season) is approaching. Something about the crisp fall air and turning of the leaves really energizes my creativity. 

As far as writing goes, though, I HAVE completed my first (good) novel manuscript as I mentioned a few weeks ago. I'm currently accepting requests for proofreading, if anyone is interested. I think anyone who enjoys mystery or sci-fi would enjoy it. Let me know.

To wet your palette, I thought I'd offer a little taste of what to expect in my novel (and in the sequel that I've been brainstorming for the last few weeks). 


“Give yourself up!” I shouted, and he spun around. He must not have known where I was, because he kept glancing around the rooftop. I turned my back to him, putting the machinery between us as I shouted to keep my location hidden. “There’s no getting out of here. If we walk out together, I can tell the cops that you didn’t fight. What’s it going to be?”

For a split second I thought that the unit I was leaning against was powering down, but a moment later I realized that the tapping sound was footsteps. I spun around, bringing my gun up to bear just as the man in grey reached me. His palm lashed out and slapped the gun from my grip. My right hand went numb, pain shooting through my still-sore fingers.

Still sore from yesterday.

His open left hand struck me in the chest, shoving the wind from my lungs and throwing me ten feet across the surface of the roof. I rolled like a lost hubcap until a solar collector stopped me.

“Don’t you get tired of doing that?” I groaned, climbing to my feet. The man in the grey suit had taken a fighting stance. He hadn’t moved from where he’d clobbered me. I took him in- plain grey suit, shirt, black tie. Maybe a size 38 medium. A face so plain that the only remarkable thing about it was just how unremarkable it was. His brown eyes narrowed beneath his heavy brow, the orange-gray New York sky reflecting a bit off of his perfectly bald head.

“Let me guess, Proscor makes a fine artificial skin, but artificial hair is harder to get ahold of. Am I right?” I said, buying time to allow my lungs to reinflate. “Who did your face? It’s good work."

“I know a guy,” it said, narrowing his eyes. “You’ve that private eye I ran into yesterday.”

“’Ran into’ is the right way to put it,” I said. “What are you doing here?”

“Just trying to be left alone,” it said. Something about its voice was more human than the voice of the receptionist had been, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was.

“Well, I hope you’re happy, because I’m involved now,” I said.

“I didn’t mean to hurt anyone,” he said. “But you need to turn around, go back down that ladder and tell the police to leave.” His words were heavy with emotion but as hard as granite.

That was what it was. Emotion.

“You know I can’t do that,” I said, putting my weight on my feet again. “You’re a full Auto, right? I’ll bet you’ve got all kinds of stuff programmed in your noggin. So you probably already know how the PI system in this city works.” When he didn’t reply, I continued, “I’m working with the NYPD on this, and if I let you go they’ll arrest me for aiding a fugitive. I’m not going to Sing Sing on your account.”

He was on me before I could think, crossing the ten feet between us in the blink of an eye. I ducked out of the way as his fist lashed out; there was a shriek of tearing metal as his hand punctured the steel equipment behind me. In the second it took for the Auto to free its hand I’d raked my fingernails across its face and bald head, synthetic skin tearing beneath my hands. When he turned to face me, his flesh-mask hung ragged off of his head like macabre dreadlocks.

“Don’t make me do this!” it shouted at me, and I could see the tiny blue camera-lights flickering beneath the false eyes on the skin. I backpedaled away, trying to give myself more room to maneuver.

The Auto moved faster than I could imagine, and suddenly it was on me again. It threw a wild punch that struck my shoulder, and even though I rolled with the blow jagged needles of pain tore through my arm all the way to my fingertips. I grabbed at his pants with my good left hand and yanked hard as I moved, throwing him off balance.

He stumbled for a moment and my foot lashed out, the heel of my shoe catching the back of his knees. It felt like I stamped my foot on a concrete sidewalk, but the force was enough to stagger him. He fell to one knee but recovered before I could get away, springing back to his feet. He discarded the rumpled grey suit jacket. His shirt had torn at the shoulders, revealing the carbon-fiber body beneath.

I knew I couldn’t beat him. This thing was a literal machine, made of steel and rubber and carbon fiber, and I was a flesh and blood person with a crippled hand and some seriously sore ribs. If this went on for much longer, he was going to kill me. I knew it, and he knew it.

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