My book is free this weekend in e-book format. This book is a werewolf story, a murder mystery, a comedy, and a slice of life in the lives of the kids who make up the softball team and liars’ club that is the Norwall Pirates.
Arkin Cloudstalker and his friend Lazerstone walked into the starport center in the planet known as Ibiguy. This stop on their journey had been a necessity brought on by lack of supplies and fuel aboard the little scout ship they now flew. It was only one small needle-like wedge of mechanical parts to use in the quest to puncture holes in the fabric of space and re-unite Cloudstalker with his Lady Knights.
Swirls of orange dust flew about the grand concourse in this starport. It was a parched and cracked desert world, this Ibiguy. It was one small discordant note in the symphony of space and time. It was also a hardship to travelers. There was no water and little hydrogen in this system to use as fuel for starships. It had to be purchased at the starport in order to move along to the next stanza in their travels through the star lanes.
Many alien eyes pondered the odd pair as they walked through the starport. Birdlike aliens, wedge-headed aliens, oceanic aliens wearing suits filled with salty water, and star-fish shaped aliens known as Sparkies. This world, rarely used by Galtorr Imperials, had become a haven to those who were persecuted, especially those known as Un-Humans because their make-up was not humanoid. Freaks, too, who had slipped away from their forced servitude, found sanctuary in this place. For obvious reasons, the starport had only planet-bound elements, a downport. There was no space station or space port in the system.
“I don’t understand,” said Arkin, inclining his cowboy-hatted head towards Lazerstone, “why are they watching us?”
“I sense anticipation. Their pulse and surge rates are all slightly elevated, indicating anxiety of some sort.”
“Yes, I feel it. Can you tell what might be causing it?”
“Is there an angry cyborg in your past?”
“What?” Arkin’s eyes grew round and fearful.
“There is a being re-animated with artificial energy flows behind us. He is seventy-two per cent metallic and eight per cent polymer. He has been trailing us since we passed through the first security gate.”
“It’s Ace Campfield.” Arkin tried to pretend that the music of the universe was not pounding out an eerie tuba score that made the heart rate climb dramatically.
“We know he’s there,” cautioned Lazerstone. “I can see him even when he’s hiding because I don’t rely on eyes to see. It gives us a tactical advantage.”
“I can’t read minds, but I know he’s got a small plasma weapon that he is firing up for use. We can attack first.”
Arkin began to sweat profusely. He only narrowly escaped the bounty-hunting Mechanoid the last time. This would have to be a fatal confrontation, one way or another.
“He’s hideous in a way,” commented Lazerstone. “He is a creature who’s not fully alive and certainly not dead. His cold heart seems to be without feeling.”
“You’re going to say it again, aren’t you?”
“Yes, that. You got it from ancient holovids, didn’t you Mr. Vulcan?”
“Yes. It’s a good word. But I am not Spock.”
Arkin pulled his gauss pistol and dove to the right. Lazerstone dove to the left. They both rolled and came up pointing their weapons at a surprised Ace Campfield.
“What? You will shoot me with those things? A speedy slug thrower and a finger?”
“Yes,” said Arkin, pulling the trigger. The gauss pistol launched its accelerated slug at mach 4 and Lazerstone simultaneously launched crystal shards from the end of his finger. The slug tore through Ace’s cranium, breaking circuitry and slagging connections. The crystal shards flew past the rotted head and plunged into the ground in five places.
The face of Ace Campfield wrinkled upwards into a skeletal grin of pure mockery. “Didn’t feel a thing!” He raised his plasma handgun to point it at Arkin’s white face.
Out of the ground surrounding Campfield, five crystal arms rose out of the dirt like a scene from a George Romero movie. Each grabbed the bounty-hunter, pulling at him from a different direction.
Ace’s arms and legs splintered as the five new Lazerstones stood up, rending him limb from limb.
“Curse you, you alien scum!” cried the limbless torso that was previously Ace Campfield.
“Sorry there were only five of us to answer the call,” said Lazerstone, “but there’s a limited amount of harmonic quartz on this planet.”
Arkin smiled and nodded at his friend. “Fascinating!”
He had so many expenses, he didn’t know what to do.
Of course, I am not complaining.
Even though it’s a tennis shoe and not a cowboy boot.
I have got an ice cream truck outside. Sponsored by Hot Wheels.
And now that I have a substitute teaching job, I almost have more money than bills… well, some months… maybe.
But I still can’t afford ice cream. Or insulin.
But my neighbor lives in a house made of eggshell. And he has cancer. But he gets visits from the Partridge Family in their funky school bus. It is better to live on a shoe-string budget than an eggshell budget. But we all have our troubles. Which Aetna will never willingly pay for.
Except for the rich guy who lives on Mel Gibson Hill. He has no troubles.
He has plenty of money.
And he is the reason the rest of us are poor.
Because he pays for politicians to give him tax breaks on all that money that never trickles down the hill.
But life is good in Toonerville Town.
Unless that shoestring comes undone.
And then it takes lots more hard work to tie it up again.
When I was a boy, the Western reigned supreme on both television and in the movie theaters. Part of the benefit of that was being indoctrinated with “the Cowboy Way” which was a system of high ideals and morality that no longer exists, and in fact, never did exist outside of the imaginations of little boys in the 1950’s and 1960’s. We learned that good guys wore white hats and bad guys wore black. You only won the shootout if you shot the bad guy and you didn’t draw your gun first.
Of course, the cowboys who were the “White Knights of the Great Plains” we worshiped as six-year-olds and the singing cowboys on TV were not the same ones we watched when we were more mature young men of ten to twelve. John Wayne starring in Hondo (after the book by Louis L’Amour) was more complicated than that, and we learned new things about the compromises you make in the name of survival and trying to do things the best way you can. From Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence we began to see that sometimes you shot the villain in the back from down the street to save your simple friend from the gunfight in the street when he was too naive and green to win.
Wyatt Earp at the OK Corral was the white hat we wanted desperately to be when we grew up. And then I saw on PBS in the late 60’s a documentary about the real shootout and the real compromises and consequences of the thing we once thought was so clearly good versus evil.
Wyatt went from the TV hero,
To the mostly moral man fighting what seemed like lawlessness,
To a morally ambiguous angel of death, winning on luck and guts rather than righteousness, and paying evil with vengeance while suffering the same himself from those dirty amoral cowboys, sometimes good, but mostly not.
And then along came Clint and “the Man with No Name”. More ambiguous and hard to fathom still…
Who really was The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly? What made any one of them worse than the other two? You need to listen to the music before you decide. We are all of us good, bad, and ugly at times. And all of it can be made beautiful at the end with the right theme music behind it. Did we ever learn anything of real value from cowboy movies? Of course we did. They made us who we are today. They gave us the underpinnings of our person-hood. So, why do they not make them anymore? The video essay at the end of my wordiness has answers. But basically, we grew up and didn’t need them anymore. And children and youths of today have different heroes. Heroes who are heroic without shootouts and letting the bad guy draw his gun first. Ideally, heroes who are us.
I have been running free-book promotions on Twitter and Facebook with limited results. But people are reading my books. Now that I will soon have 14 books published and available on Amazon, I can run one free-book promotion per month, as the author’s right to run that sort of promotion without paying for it renews every three months for each individual book.
This month I am promoting The Baby Werewolf for the first time.
Here’s a run-down of the previous promotions.
So, as a reminder, the next promotion I am trying this next week is for the novel The Baby Werewolf.