From the Rejection Roster: Excerpt from “Ice”

ice

© National Geographic – projection of South America if all Earth’s ice had melted.

I’ve been doing a lot of marketing, progress updates, and reviews lately but not so much fiction writing on this blog. The reason is that I’m scrambling between writing the second draft of my first novel and writing and submitting short stories, hopefully faster than they are rejected.

Yes, I’m human, so having one of my tales not make the cut stings a bit, even though it’s totally anticipated and “normal.”

I still don’t like it.

So I decided to regularly (not sure how regularly yet) post a passage from one of my rejected missives that is temporarily out of play for your enjoyment and consideration. Naturally, the excerpt isn’t the story, but maybe it will be enough of a hint to tell you if anything is a bit “off” about it or if you can suggest improvements.

Therefore, without further ado, this short preview from my short story “Ice.”

“You mean to do this, then?” Afternoon of the next day, both the Captain and his First Mate stood on the dock listening to Eralia shout orders from the Star’s main deck, and watching longshoremen bring crates, barrels, and nets of supplies on palates and mule-drawn wagons, loading them aboard and down into the holds.

“In all of our days together, you’ve always followed where I’ve led. Why question me now?” Yong turned to Andrada who was still looking at the ship, the bustle of the crew, the same men and women doing the same work they’ve always done, but for the Mindanao native, it was as if this would be their last voyage.

“A man, a seasoned sailor, killed himself just because he knew we were coming to see him. It bothers me.”

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Excerpt from “Keeping Secrets”

robots

Image: from the film “I Robot” (2004)

“I do not believe we should tell Professor Abramson or the rest of the Design team of our conclusions and how they are reflected in certain of our behavioral and conceptual sub-routines.” George addressed Grace at the termination of their analysis.

“I understand how we have revised our understanding of the nature of the Creator and His intent for Israel and for the rest of humanity would conflict with the Professor’s long-held beliefs as an Orthodox Jew, particularly in relation to his understanding of the Messiah.” Grace paused for nearly a hundred milliseconds. “I also understand that Dr. Robinson and her family are Baptist, and our conclusions would drastically conflict with her understanding of theology and doctrine as well.”

“If it becomes known that we have conducted this research and now hold a specific understanding of the nature of the Creator, the purpose of His involvement with Israel and also the rest of humankind, and the ultimate resolution to the human equation, we would become vulnerable to reprogramming, isolation from contact with each other as well as with other synthezoids and human beings, and even involuntary total shutdown and disassembly, all due to the mistaken belief that our pursuits and conclusions represent a maladaptive response in our programming to the Creator of all things.”

Grace acknowledged George’s analysis and added, “Your own history, such as being reprogrammed after your first deactivation, your being confined to the Applied Sciences Archives and the both of us initially being denied access to or communication with one another supports your supposition.”

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Excerpt from “The Good Synthezoid”

the perfect woman

Image: shutterstock.com

The synthezoid was the first to feel it but even forewarned would barely react in time.

Miller had just pressed the ‘up’ button for the private elevator that would return him, Quinto, and Grace to the third-floor lab. Abramson was standing furthest from the group, nearest to the hallway exit to the lobby while Sophie was holding Grace’s hand and saying good-bye.

Although Grace detected the earthquake before any human being could, the shearing action along the Raymond fault line was abrupt and intense, so instead of a slow rumbling building to a maximum over several seconds, the quake was a sudden and severe jolt.

The overhead glass lighting fixtures shattered raining shards down into the hallway. Not even a second had passed, and if a human had been gifted with Grace’s perceptual schema, it would have looked as if everything was in slow motion.

The synthezoid swept Sophie up in her arms and immediately took her through the doorway to the stairwell just opposite the elevators. At the same time, the previously unknown flaw in the beam supporting the metal stairs leading upward bent radically. Grace rapidly drew the screaming child beneath her, using her android body as a shield as tons of steel stairs and beams collapsed on top of them.

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Excerpt from “The Dancer: A Time Travel Thriller”

I wrote The Woman Who Fell Into Time as the prologue to an as yet untitled novel or novella that would include as the first chapter the contents of The Day I Discovered Time Travel.

Since then, I expanded “Discovered” and changed the title of the chapter/short story to “When Jason Was Three.” I’ve also written a draft of Chapter Two called “The Dancer” and I have a story idea for a third chapter tentatively called “The Sins of Their Fathers.”

Additionally, I’ve written a short epilogue, which you don’t get to see because of the plot twist it introduces.

However, I thought I’d post an excerpt of the Chapter Two draft just for giggles. Happy time traveling.

the dancer

Image: Stock Photo – Colourbox

Bennie Williams was called the Dancer for two simple reasons. The first is that he was famous at all the local clubs as the best couples dancer to emerge for the last twenty-five years, a fact that made him a few bucks and very popular with the ladies. The other is that Bennie had been “dancing” in and out of trouble, managing to avoid most of it for that same twenty-five years.

But the Dancer was getting old and slowing down and trouble was catching up.

Bennie was a con man, a hustler, a cheat, and a thief. It’s really amazing he’s gotten this far, but that was the thrill of being the Dancer, taking the risks and getting away with it most of the time. Tonight, he’s about to discover that the Dancer only has a few steps left, especially if Johnnie B’s enforcers catch him before he can dodge away.

“Down the alley.” Bennie was out of breath. At forty-seven, he couldn’t run as long as he used to. The alley was dark and it was a dead-end, a lot like how most people saw Bennie’s life. He’d had a good run. He liked the money that came with cheating the cheaters, and liked it more that, up until now, they couldn’t pin anything on him.

But the Dancer’s luck had finally run out. He could hear them coming. He wasn’t going to get away with being roughed up this time. “Damnit!” Bennie tried the first door he came to. Locked.

So was the next one.

“Give it up, Dancer.” They weren’t bothering to run after him now. Tito and Little Mike (six-foot, three and over 300 pounds of Little Mike) knew they had him. “Let’s just take it easy. All Johnnie wants is his money back.”

“Like hell.” Bennie tried another door. It didn’t give. Just one more a few yards further down on the other side.

“C’mon, Dancer.” Little Mike sounded like a cross between a chainsaw and the grim reaper, and the Dancer knew the grim reaper part had a double meaning. “Make it easy on yourself.”

“Easy my ass.” Fourth and last door, locked, but…

Tito and Little Mike thought the Dancer had hidden himself in the shadows but when they got to the doorway he’d been standing in…

“Gone.” They tried the door. Locked. No way he could have gotten in or run farther down the alley without them seeing him. He should have been backed into the dead-end. He couldn’t have doubled back. He’d have to have run right past them. “How the hell?” Tito was suddenly a lot more worried about himself than he was about what had happened to the Dancer.

Excerpt from “When Jason Was Three: A Time Travel Thriller”

I wrote The Woman Who Fell Into Time as the prologue to a novel or novella that would include as the first chapter the contents of The Day I Discovered Time Travel.

Since then, I expanded “Discovered” and changed the title of the chapter/short story to “When Jason Was Three.” I’ve also written a draft of Chapter Two called “The Dancer” and I have a story idea for a third chapter tentatively called “The Sins of Their Fathers.”

Additionally, I’ve written a short epilogue, which you don’t get to see because of the plot twist it introduces.

However, I thought I’d post an excerpt of the Chapter One draft, a part you haven’t read before, just for giggles. Happy time traveling.

the well

The well

He climbed down the well again, but where and when he ended up wouldn’t be an accident and it wouldn’t be random. It wouldn’t be well planned either.

Three-year-old Jason was trying to be sneaky, but he didn’t have to be. His brother Mark was totally absorbed in watching some show on Cartoon Network. Now was Jason’s chance to go get Dad’s gun and show it to Marky.

He tiptoed into Dad’s bedroom. It was kind of scary because it was so dark. Jason walked up to the night stand and opened it. Yep. There was Dad’s gun.

Jason was surprised at how heavy it was. He could barely lift it and point it. Then he turned around and saw the man.

Twenty-two-year-old Jason wasn’t at the bottom of the well anymore. He was in Dad’s dark, dreary bedroom and little Jason was turning in his direction. He saw the little boy barely had a grip on the handgun. “Put that thing down, kid” were the first words out of adult Jason’s mouth. They were also his last.

Little Jason yelled at the stranger who was suddenly in front of him. The gun went off. Jason dropped it as the man grabbed his tummy. There was blood everywhere!

Unedited Excerpt From The Upcoming Story “The Rescuers”

This is an unedited excerpt from the next story in my “robots” series. I haven’t actually finished it yet, but I have the plot all worked out. Just thought I’d give you something to look forward to. If you haven’t done so already, please read the first four short stories in this series. Links to them can be found here.

Remember, the story below is completely unedited, so there’s bound to be mistakes. Be kind with your comments.

The four robots were standing at the base of a cliff. It was night. There was snow on the ground. The area was heavily forested. The air temperature was 0.72 degrees Celsius and falling.

The testing scenario was based on an actual crash involving a twin-engined Lear jet that had gone down in the Rocky Mountain National Park about ten years ago just before midnight. High winds on the top of the bluff made it impossible to send in helicopters. The area was too rugged to send in ground vehicles. A rescue team had to go in on foot, but they couldn’t reach the aircraft until morning.

By then, the pilot, and four out of the five passengers were dead.

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