Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Finnegan's Awake, 3 (Seal Team i)

Seal Team i protects the multiverses from threats both large and small.  And they appear in serialized stories like this one!

Our story so far: On its way to a rogue agent who is threatening to use a planet like a cue ball in a game of billiards, Seal Team i is attacked from within and without.  Feel like starting at the beginning? PROBABLY A GOOD IDEA. Read part one here.


PART THREE: I Can Tell That We Are Gonna Be Friends.


Negative Jimmy reacted automatically, years of training taking over, and pushed the helmet, with its screaming head, off to one side as he kicked away from the battlesuited body, which he knew would do exactly what it did the next moment, which was to get up and start attacking the team members, who by now were in full combat mode.  These being elite fighters, the next few things all happened in the course of a few seconds:

Tommy's headless body activated its battlesuit.

Negative Jimmy grabbed the still-screaming decapitated head-in-a-helmet and began trying to wrestle it out while yelling "Sarge! Ion! Take it out!", the pronoun it needing no explanation.  Sarge rolled over and felt himself careening off the wall as the ship they were in did a barrel roll to avoid the solar flare.  Ion, still strapped into his seat, fired several bolts of blue electricity at the battlesuit, which crackled and twisted under the electrical impulses.  When Sarge got his feet, he joined in the attack.

The ship pulled abruptly back, stopping what had seemed to be a dive and beginning to climb.

"TARGETS IDENTIFIED" the onboard battle computer announced.

"Pilot report!" Jimmy yelled into his mike as he continued trying to pull Tommy's head out of its helmet.  The head was still screaming wordlessly, a mindless drone that ululated up and down and sometimes grew hoarse but never stopped.

"I don't see anything," the pilot came back.

"TARGETS IDENTIFIED. SCREENING FIRE PATTERN CREATION INITIATED" the onboard battle computer announced.

Jimmy realized with a sick feeling in his stomach that the onboard battle computer should not be talking.  After what had happened with Zero in the Emulsion, all sentient computers had been disconnected.

Then Tommy's body, which was essentially a glowing blue ball of energy at that point, rolled left, suddenly, and disintegrated two of the team members as it crashed over them and out the bulkhead, blasting itself into space and creating a whirlwind of air as the rest of the contents of the troop carrier were sucked out, too.

Negative Jimmy's helmet was already sealed.  He activated the magnetic soles of his boots and stood his ground, as did Sarge and a few of the others, but at least six of the men were pulled into space.

******************************************************************************

"We didn't do this one," said one of the tentacles' assistants.

"I wonder who did," the tentacles said, beginning to slither more angrily.

It was one thing, after all, to test the capabilities of one's enemy as it approached.

It was another, entirely, to waste food.

******************************************************************************

Jimmy finally had Tommy's head out of the helmet, but it was still screaming.  Outside the breach in the hull he could see the blue-glowing fingers of Tommy's suit gripping the edge of the hole, while the Seal Team members who had been pulled out activated thruster packs and began coming back towards the ship.

"Take evasive..." he said into the mike but it was too late, as the battle cannons cleanly picked off all six of them, almost instantly.

******************************************************************************

"Find the source of the interruption," the tentacles commanded.

"Searching for it," an assistant said.

A few seconds later, he had the answer:

"It's not coming from this universe."

*******************************************************************************

Tommy's suit pulled its way back inside and unleashed a full onslaught, arm-rockets and phosphogrenades flaring and careening around the interior.  Seal Team i reacted as it should, but in the enclosed space it was hard for their suit computers to accurately track the others and avoid friendly fire, so the weaponry they could use was limited.  Tommy's suit was not so hampered and blasted indiscriminately, still flared with the energy it had absorbed from the nullification attempts.  The yellows of the phosphogrenades lingered and made it hard to see, the glare causing dampening effects on the visors as they tried to compensate, but the glow still hurt his eyes.  Reds and blues of lasers and nullifiers crisscrossed the space.  Jimmy was behind the suit and kneeling, and he used his eye-tracking  controllers to click on the powerglove.

As his glove glowed greenish he reached up and with a swift move smacked it down onto the jet pack of Tommy's suit, instantly melting the pack and the suit to slag and ending the threat.

At least, that was the plan.

Instead, Tommy's suit spun around faster than Jimmy would have expected it could and grabbed his wrist just below the green glow of the glove.

In his hand, the head suddenly stopped screaming and narrowed its eyes at Jimmy.

"What's this?" it asked.  "A new weapon that only the leaders get?"

"Something like that," Jimmy grunted in response, staring at the headless suit that was pushing his arm back.

"TARGETS IDENTIFIED" said the onboard battle computer.

Jimmy tried to ignore it but the pilot again reported nothing on the radar, and then, a moment later, as Jimmy struggled to keep the suit from pressing his green-glove back onto his own visor, the pilot said "Commercial spaceliners.  Carrying passengers.  Civilians."

"TARGETS LOCKED" said the battle computers.

*******************************************************************************

"What universe is it coming from, then?" asked the tentacles.

"None of them," the assistant said.

"It's outside?" asked the tentacles incredulously.

Silence, for a moment, then:

"But only one thing was left outside."

The assistants did not answer.

"THERE WERE TWO," said a computerized voice that surrounded the tentacles.

********************************************************************************

On board the civilian ships that had just come out of their warp runs, 450 revelers on vacation celebrated their re-entry to normal space, and their nearing the planet Finnegan, by popping open bottles of champagne and toasting each other, unaware of a single thing that was going on around them.  That was probably for the best.  Let them enjoy a few more moments of happiness, and life.


Friday, May 24, 2013

Story 25 (250=1)

In 250=1, I write stories that are exactly 250 words long, including the title.

What It Is Like To Be A Frog (You Think?)

When Riquon was a frog one time in his imagination he began by hopping and hopping, all around the neighborhood.

"I am a frog," he said to the bus driver having a smoke while the bus sat idling next to him.

"Frogs don't use words, they say ribbit," said the bus driver.

Riquon hopped on, saying "ribbit, ribbit, ribbit" to each person passing on the street.

"I am a frog," he whispered to an old lady waiting impatiently for the light to change.

"Ribbit," he added belatedly.

"Frogs don't live in cities, they live in ponds," the old lady said, a bit grumpily, for the light had not yet changed.

Riquon hopped and ribbitted to the park, where there was a fountain.  He looked around and saw nobody paying attention to the frog, and so he first carefully hopped and ribbitted onto the edge of the fountain (even though it was more like walking and sitting it was hopping and ribbetting if you looked at it the right way) and then when nobody said anything, he hopped and ribbetted into the fountain, where it was cold and wet and the water splashed and his frog feet which were webbed toes if you squinted and they were green if you didn't count that they were actually brownish, his frog feet stepped on the nickels and dimes and pennies and sometimes quarters that had been thrown there to make wishes come true.





Click here for a link to all the 250=1 stories. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Today's featured #helpwolverton book(s): 2 new authors, one new story.




 INDIE  AUTHORS  FOR 

BEN WOLVERTON!



Indie Authors For Ben Wolverton are donating profits from the sales of their books for the month of May to help Ben Wolverton recover from a terrible accident.  Read more about Ben here


The new story is from author Rusty Carl, who has other books down on the list.  Rusty just wrote and made available on Amazon the excellent short "Going Home," a sci-fi story about two soldiers hunkering down as the aliens destroying their world (Earth? probably) are closing in.  Get it on Amazon for just $0.99 by clicking here. 













The new authors are:

Arthur Roberg, whose fantasy trilogy begins with "Ancient Memory," in which Salt Lake City detectives begin investigating some grisly murders and uncover a cult, and continues through the "Out Of The Mist" series to the thrilling conclusion in "Apache Moon."  Find all three books on Arthur's author page here. 






And Vickie Smith of Ark Essentials publishing pledges all the May profits of her book "Confessions of  A Butcher: Eat Steak on a Hamburger Budget," a guide to the best of meat at the best of prices, I take it.  Find it on Ark Essentials' page, here.






And the other books:




Nightingale, (sci-fi) by David Farland.  David is Ben's dad, with two books to buy.  Nightingale, a speculative fiction book about a young man raised in foster care who learns he can sing and affect evil, and Million Dollar Outlines, a nonfiction book to help writers learn to write better outlines.  The books start at $6.99 in pretty much every format.

To buy either of these books, CLICK THIS LINK.










The Lost Road Chronicles 
(ya/speculative fiction) by J. Leigh Bralick, The "Lost Road" Chronicles begin with "Down a Lost Road," in which a 16-year old uncovers family secrets and gets swept into Earth's mystical past.)

CLICK HERE IF YOU WANT TO HELP BEN BY BUYING ONE OR MORE OF J. LEIGH BRALICK'S BOOKS ON AMAZON.





Books by Briane Pagel.  Pagel is the indie author of books like

Eclipse, a harrowing sci-fi story about an astronaut who wanted nothing more than to reach the stars, and did so -- but it took murder to get there.  Or did it?

the After: Saoirse's life didn't begin until she died in a plane crash. But with everything perfect in the After, why is she so unhappy? With the help of a possibly-unfriendly William Howard Taft, Saoirse looks for, in her afterlife, the meaning she never had in her life.

The Scariest Things, You CAN'T Imagine: short horror stories that will leave you lying awake at night wishing you'd stuck with something lighter.  Try "The Grave-Robbers," in which New Sam learns that there have been a lot of prior Sams born to Mom and Dad.  And they're all down in the catacombs...

All these books and more, just $0.99 on your Kindle.

CLICK HERE IF YOU WANT TO HELP BEN BY BUYING ONE OR MORE OF BRIANE'S BOOKS FROM AMAZON.



BOOKS BY RUSTY CARL:  

Rusty is a master artist and the author of several books:

A Dead God's Wrath (spec fic/novella): A mysterious stranger shows up to help avenge a brutal murder, unlocking magic of the best, and worst, kind in a sleepy 1895 western town.

War Angel: Like your romance with a bit of adventure and history? In this story, a young man learns of his grandmother's remarkable escape from Nazi Germany with the help of a dashing stranger.






Books by S.K. Valenzuela:

S.K. Valenzuela writes the Silesia series: Silesia: The Outworlder,
and The Lords Of Askalon:  Freed when her prison ship crashes, aided by a rogue fugitive, Saraha is trying to foment a rebellions against the Dragon-Lords. 

CLICK HERE TO HELP BEN BY BUYING ONE OF S.K.'S BOOKS ON AMAZON.











"Unfettered: Tales From The Masters Of Fantasy," an anthology of fantasy works that is offering ARCs right now.  Proceeds from the first fifty books sold will help Ben Wolverton recover, and the books will be autographed by some big names in fantasy including Terry Brooks and Shawn Speakman, so click this link to go buy your ADVANCED COPY of this awesome-sounding book.
















 B.J. Baye's book, "Desperate Upload,"

 A young boy is all that stands between a commando team from Mars and a deadly attack on Earth's orbital station. Jon Whyte is a kid born and raised on his family's freighter Stardream as it carries cargo all over the solar system. On a yearly return to Earth Station, the Stardream is intercepted by a commando team of marines from Mars, who are ready to strike the first blow against Earth in a war of independence. BONUS STORY: Four Minutes A young single mother finds herself the target of the Men in Black.

That's two stories for the price of one!  Get B.J.'s book on Amazon by clicking here




Want to join? Cut and paste that part, put it on your blog, add your info, and let me know it's there.  I'll post about you, too, and add you to the list

Sunday, May 19, 2013

If you are going to write about giraffes, the temptation is to call them all names like "Gerald" or "Rafael," but if your story is one in which a boatload of giraffes goes to war in the beginning of time then... wait, "Rafael Giraffe" actually sounds pretty good. (Short Stories With Long Titles)



Other people had the idea to build an ark, too, when Noah did it, but none of them followed through on the ideas because first they figured that Noah would be nice enough to share if it turned out all those rains came, and also second because the NBA playoffs were on and San Antonio was doing well.

But the giraffes knew Noah wouldn't share, because Giraffe God had told them so.

"He won't share," Giraffe God pronounced from atop the leafy tree where he lived, just beyond the reach of their long, long necks.  "And the rains from Human God will come down and will cover the entire world, and you will all drown."

"Can't you stop Human God?" the giraffes cried, and promised to sacrifice banana leaves in the thousands to Giraffe God, who simply tilted his horns to them and spread his ears in a sympathetic manner.

"Human God is crazy," Giraffe God told them, by way of indicating that he, Giraffe God, could not stop them.

Rafael had a plan, though: They would have their own ark, themselves, a giraffe ark, that would not house two of every animal but would instead house all the giraffes in the world, and at the end of the flood there would be lots and lots of giraffes and only two of each of the other animals, even bugs, which Rafael Giraffe knew Noah Human was gathering, too, and the giraffes by virtue of their numbers would then have the most powerful god, Giraffe God, because gods get their power, Giraffe God told them, from how many followers they have.  Human God, following the flood, would be weak, as would Lion God and Eagle God and Camel God and Whale God and all the gods, even Bug God.

Giraffe God liked Rafael's plan.

This is the story of how Rafael's plan failed, twice.

First, it failed in the less interesting way: giraffes cannot build, it turns out. They should have suspected that, Rafael Giraffe and his friends and coworkers.  They began to gather supplies and soon had a fine stock of wood and nails and tools, some of them purchased from nearby vendors who thought they were taking advantage of the giraffes.

"That bag of nails?" one would say.  "That's, ahhh, 45 drachmas," and the giraffes would pay, knowing that they were being gouged but not caring.

"He will get his," the giraffe workers told themselves, "When Giraffe God is in charge of things."

All the food would be much higher up, for one thing.  None of this leaning down at cafe counters to try to get the food off a plate, one's neck twisting around and down until one knew, that night, one would have a terrible neckache and be unable to sleep and would spend the night tossing and turning and listening to the warthogs singing.

But once the supplies were there, the giraffes ran into a problem, because their hooves were no good for sawing or hammering or pliering, or any toolwork, basically.   They had hooves to allow them to gallop in seeming slow-motion across the veldt, seeming slow only because the expanse of ground between the tall trees was so impossibly wide, the trees themselves as large and wide as a mansion, but the area in which they sat was so much larger that the trees appeared, in the distance, to be bushes.  A viewer -- whether human or hippopotamus or bug -- sitting on the edge of the veldt watching the giraffes sprinting from tree to tree would have thought them all tiny, but they were not.  It was a trick of perspective.

Giraffes tried holding nails between hooves meant for pounding sun-scorched dirt and gripping hammers with teeth more suited to peeling bark and leaves off of trees and grinding that into a digestible meal, but it soon became clear to Rafael that this would not work.

"It's not going to work," he reported to Giraffe God one night, when Giraffe God was sitting atop his tree and looking at the full moon pensively.  Giraffe God was worried that if he did not send two giraffes to sail on Noah's ark, and if his plan -- Rafael's plan that had become Giraffe God's by virtue of Giraffe God blessing it -- if his plan did not work, Giraffe God knew there would be no giraffes left and hence no Giraffe God.

"Someone will have to go to Noah's ark," Giraffe God said quietly, not looking down at Rafael Giraffe, who mistook the intent of the plan and immediately gathered fifty of his most trusted friends.

"Someone will have to go to Noah's ark," he told them all, "For that is what Giraffe God has commanded us to do."

"But for what purpose?" asked Connery Giraffe.  "What does He want us to do?"

They all knew that Giraffe God frequently spoke in riddles, or so they assumed.  The truth was that Giraffe God was frequently distracted by his own concerns and never listened closely to what his followers were saying.  He had inherited his position from his father, who had been a very good, very attentive Giraffe God. The senior Giraffe God had been the one responsible for their long necks, necks he gave them so they would no longer compete with the antelope and zebras for food but could reach the tall trees.

That in turn had let the giraffes roam further away from the lions and the hippopotamuses, which had led to an increase in their safety and a resultant increase in their numbers, and the senior Giraffe God had for some time been the most powerful of the African gods, rivaling even some of the gods on the other continents, like Buffalo God, who enjoyed a land in which there were no predators for his people.  Buffalo God frequently bragged of his might, but the senior Giraffe God, who could see into the future sometimes when he ate jimson weed, knew that wouldn't last forever and so bore the bragging with equanimity.

The junior Giraffe God had inherited his position when the senior Giraffe God had gotten into a duel with the Penguin God, a god the former had drastically underestimated because, Giraffe God had figured, there were limited numbers of each kind of penguin, but that was where he had gone wrong: it turned out that the penguins' differences were only superficial and each penguin was united under a single Penguin God, and when Giraffe God had taken affront to the presence of penguins on the southern tip of Africa:



"Africa is hot, and blasted by the sun, and full of beams of light and hazy dust and sticky sweaty jungles and dried river beds and the desert!" the senior Giraffe God had bellowed from stop his tree at the Penguin God, who he could see atop an ice floe, far away, in Antarctica.

"Not at the south! At the south it is cold and the ocean currents create billows of clouds and the water  turns icy with the memories of six months of night at the pole," the Penguin God had argued back, and the duel had begun.

For fourteen days, the hemisphere had resounded with the echoing of godlike hooves on ice, with the slap of icy waves onto trees that could not bear the shock.  The world had for two weeks felt the suns of Africa bear down on the ices of Antarctica, melting them fiercely, only to see icicles growing on the plants the giraffes huddled behind.  For nearly a fortnight, the dusts of the Sahara whipped themselves into a sandstorm that blotted out the South Pole's meager summer, but then an iceberg dropped on the senior Giraffe God's tree and the battle was over, and the junior Giraffe God had taken over, mostly consumed in the early years of his godhood with the trouble of finding a suitable giraffe harem.

Rafael had figured out this latest riddle, though.

"He wants us," Rafael told the fifty giraffes, "To steal Noah's ark."

That, of course, was wrong.  Giraffe God was simply upset that all the giraffe would be wiped out and he would be extincted then, too, by the deaths of his followers, and so he wanted two of the giraffe (who thus far had been hiding from Noah, to support the Giraffe God) to go to the Human Ark and stay alive that way. Giraffe God was losing faith in his own plans.

"How can we do that?" asked one of the fifty giraffes Rafael had gathered.

"Let me think about that," Rafael said, and he withdrew from the group, who talked amongst themselves for a few moments while Rafael stared up at the moon, which stared back at him and then winked encouragingly.

"I've got it," Rafael said.  He outlined his idea for them, and they all agreed it was a good one, and not two nights later, fifty-one giraffes slunk out from the cover of the tree where Giraffe God lives, late at night, the moon cooperating by shining in a different hemisphere so that the African plains were black as octopus ink.  Through that milky dense night, the fifty-one giraffes strode, quietly, stepping on grassy clumps and softer patches of sun-hardened plain, quickly and gaining speed.  On the first night, they reached Egypt, and they camped behind a pyramid during the day, hoping that nobody saw them.

The moon, bribed with silver, stayed away each of the four nights it took to reach Noah's farm.  The giraffe stood on a hillside looking down at the tent where Noah lived, behind which stood the Ark, all but completed.  The last two days clouds had been forming in the sky, forming from almost nothing and then rolling over the Heavens, leaving fewer and fewer gaps of blue in between them.

"There it is," said Rafael.

A few of the fifty-one put out their cigarettes, and there was no light left in the night, because it was too soon in the history of the Universe: the light from distant stars had not had enough time to move across the infinities of space and land on their eyes yet, so without the moon, they had to rely on their other senses to get down the hill.

They spread out around Noah's farm.  Noah was inside, drunk, as he was most nights.  Almost everyone was drunk almost every night, back then, because alcohol was new to the world and people could not get enough of it.  Everyone among the Humans, that is.  Alcohol did not affect the animals all equally.  Giraffes, for example, were not subject to alcohol's influence, and could drink as much vodka or beer as they chose and never feel any effects.  (Giraffes could not, though, eat caramel corn, for it made them a bit tipsy.)

Once they had encircled the camp, Rafael strode cautiously forward.  One of Noah's sons stood quietly, in the dark, trying to watch their herd of sheep and rams and a few cows.

"Hey, hey you," Rafael whispered in the dark behind him, and when the man turned, two of the other giraffes spooked the sheep, which woke with a start and began bleating prayers to the Sheep God that they should not be trampled by dragons.  (It is a little-known fact that sheep think everything else is dragons.)

"Who is there?" said Noah's son, and inside the tent, people stirred, Noah's other sons and daughters, while the sheep, alarmed that perhaps Noah's son their shepherd saw the dragons, too, became more vocal in their entreaties to the Sheep God, who, hearing them from his far-off paddock began preparing a sacrifice to the Dragon God (who, it should be noted, did not exist.  When the Sheep God would regularly send tributes or sacrifices to the Dragon God, it would be taken by the Chicken God, who lived nearby and was doing quite well for herself.)

"Nobody," said Rafael in a hoarse whisper, ducking off to the left.  The people in the tent began trying to get outside but the giraffes near the tent were holding the door closed.

Frightened by the thought of a dragon that could lie and claim it was nobody,  the sheep got their act together and stampeded, directly at the tent, knocking it down and trapping the inhabitants in it as a herd of sheep and rams collided with each other.  The giraffes, used to the dark and using their long legs, nimbly stepped over and around them.

"Show yourself!" yelled Noah's son, but Rafael did not, instead wrapping his long neck around Noah's from behind and hissing like a snake. "Snakes!' yelled Noah.  "I knew we should not have brought them!" and he struggled against an invisible serpent while the sheep, more alarmed than ever at the thought of a lying, shape-shifting dragon, continued their storming away, dragging the tent with them and further complicating the attempts of those inside to get away.

The remainder of the giraffes, meanwhile, had gotten to the ark and two of them, armed with official-looking badges, had gone inside.

"Official human business," one had said to all the pairs of animals huddled in the middle, waiting for their room assignments.  "Ark inspection.  Everyone has to get off."  With much confusion, parakeets and bobcats and polar bears and two dachshunds and a wild assortment of bugs had been sent off the ark, in a tumult, the result being that by the time Noah and his family extricated themselves from the tent and the herd of alarmed sheep, they were faced with a confused, just-awakened mob of pairs of animals.

"What gives, Noah? You couldn't have had the ark inspected during the day?" said the taller of a pair of emus, and Noah, realizing that something was up, elbowed and struggled his way past elephants and kangaroos and more bugs than he thought could have existed -- were they already multiplying? he wondered-- and got to the front just in time to see the ark hoisted away on the surprisingly-strong shoulders of fifty-one giraffes, who had it up over the hill before he could organize a chase, and in the complete darkness when the group did reach the top of the hill it was too late.

This may seem as though Rafael's plan was a success, for the giraffe did indeed get an ark, which was surprising to the Giraffe God when, several days later, they arrived back at the tree where their God lived and showed him.

"See?" said Rafael.  "Room enough for all the giraffes!" and the group was so happy, generally,  that they did not notice that Giraffe God had his bags packed and had two tickets to board Noah's ark.  Giraffe God had been trying to pick out who would go with him, but this was better.  He could keep his harem.

The giraffe began boarding the next day, when the skies were clouded up and only a few days could possibly remain until the flood, but that was not the end of the matter.  Noah protested so vehemently to the Human God that the Human God paid a visit to Giraffe God, who met him near the edge of the tree, where the two debated, or at least Human God debated while Giraffe God distractedly wondered about whether it would rain in one day, or two.  Human God considered starting a war with Giraffe God, but Human God had fewer followers then than now and his powers were stretched to their limit with the coming flood, and so in the end he let Giraffe God keep the ark and instead replaced Noah's ark with one that Human God himself made.

"It's not like I'm doing it for him," reasoned Human God, since Noah had practically completed the ark already, and so the lesson, whatever it was, had been learned, and a new ark appeared next to Noah's camp, and Noah got the animals back on board, sternly warning them not to leave under any circumstances, and reminding the bugs that there was to be no mating until after the deluge.

But now the other animals had learned there were other ways to get through the flood, and so on the very next night a group of canny lemurs snuck into Noah's camp and bribed the elephants to help haul away the new ark, and in the morning the inhabitants of the new ark were again unceremoniously herded off the ark and left to make their way back to Noah's camp, while the lemurs and the elephants got together and formed an alliance on their own ark, stocking it with food and awaiting the rains, which, the weatherman promised, were coming in less than a week.

Human God sighed and replaced the ark again and reminded Noah to post a better guard.  But even that guard was not enough, the next night, when Noah's own sheep realized that he was only taking two of them.

"We are a family!" said one sheep.  "We will not abandon any family member to the floods or the dragons!" and they presented Noah with a petition demanding that they all be let aboard.  While Noah read the petition, the sheep walked aboard the ark, told the inhabitants that Noah was having a party in his tent, and, with all the other animals out, the sheep locked the doors and windows and refused to let anyone inside.

Human God put another ark down, so there were two identical arks in Noah's camp, one filled with sheep and the other filled with two of every animal except giraffes, sheep, lemurs, and elephants, and this time Human God decided that he himself would watch the ark, and so he took the form of a burning bush outside the gates of the ark.

"Fire!" yelled a sparrow inside the ark and all the animals rushed off to put out the burning bush out, while a leopard and a panda, who had fallen in love with each other, stayed behind and locked the doors again, following the sheep's lead.

When the rains started, there were three arks in Noah's camp, and two elsewhere.

Rafael stood on the deck with Giraffe God and watched the waters rising.

It takes some time, even with Human God in charge, to flood the entire world and for many days the rains came down and the water did not rise, and the Giraffe Ark, as they surmised the other four arks were also doing, simply sat as the water did not even appear to rise.  But a week or two into the floods, the people and animals coming by stopped laughing and instead began to look alarmed, and one day the water was two feet deep even on the hot, dry plains that the giraffe had previously loped over or stood bemusedly upon, and the giraffe were glad they'd stolen an ark.

"Let us join you," said several gnu from the base of the ark, their fur plastered against their backs, their movements slow and sloshy in the mucky water.

The ark would rock, slightly, as the water shoved against it, not strong enough or deep enough to float such a massive thing, yet, but able to shoulder it aggressively.  The giraffes looked to Giraffe God, who sat atop the cabin.

"Leave the door locked," Giraffe God yawned lazily, and the gnu ran from crocodiles and hippopotamuses that as of now were enjoying this new, entirely wet world where they could roam to places they had never seen and hunt game freely.

A few days later, everything had to swim or cling to the tops of trees that were almost themselves submerged, and the ark was lifted off the veldt and began to drift around through the leafy islands covered with animals desperate to keep their heads above water, animals that found themselves trying to navigate this strange new world.

Not all were concerned.

Hippopotamuses found it pleasant, and enjoyed access to the new foods.  They paddled their large bodies around, sometimes blowing air out of their lungs and sinking to the bottom, to what had previously been dry plain almost never touched by water but which was now the bottom of the ocean, and they would stand there for long periods, watching the octopuses and whales go by.  Crocodiles ate krill.

The giraffe watched this and wondered, some of them, if they shouldn't have stayed on the ground, if they couldn't have clung to the tops of trees instead of standing on the deck of this lurching, hulking human ark that had no way to steer it and no weapons to protect it, wondering what would become of them, but even those few doubters stopped and were thankful for the ark when the treetops fell under the water, too, when the mountains themselves stopped being mountains and became tiny narrow islands where the animals huddled and begged their gods to help them, too.  And not just the animals, but there were also humans among them, humans who found themselves in the strange position of begging animals for help, of being equally doomed with their lesser cousins.

The ark drifted near many such  mountains-turned-islands in the third week of the rains, halfway through, and the wailing and crying drove many giraffe belowdecks.  Rafael stood at the helm, wondering if the drifting current would bring them near enough the pinnacle of death that they would have to fight.

Giraffe God had gone inside the cabin with his harem.  Rafael was alone on the deck, in the rain, and he heard the cries rising from the nearby island.

"Save us!" yelled some humans in their weak language.

"Help us aboard!" bellowed many elephants at the same time.

"Can we land there?" chirped birds.

Rafael just watched them, wondering what he should do.

Before he had decided -- before he could tell them there was little room on the ark, what with every giraffe in the world on it-- a small bug landed in front of him, its wings bright with colors in the cloudy rainy end of the world.



"I could easily sneak onto your boat, and stay, and live, as could many of my people," the bug told him.

"Are you..." Rafael stared, suspiciously.

"I am," the Bug God told him, and it stared at him with those eyes that one only sees on a god.

"There isn't..." Rafael began, but it was ridiculous, because there was plenty of room for bugs.  Still, how could they choose the bugs over the other animals? How could they save one and not all, or as many as they could? Wasn't it better to focus only on giraffekind?

"There are other Gods on the mountain.  All of us are there.  I have a deal to profer."

"A deal?"

"Let the gods aboard.  Let the gods and some of their followers, and enough will survive that the animal gods will not perish.  Human god is clever.  He has limited the number of animals that will survive enough to kill off all the animal gods, and he will inherit their power.  But if you let the gods and some of their followers live, we will be strong enough and we will survive and the animals will have an equal place in the world to come."

Rafael thought that sounded pretty good.

Behind him, a voice said:

"Squash him."

Rafael looked over his shoulder.  Giraffe God was standing there with his harem, and behind them as many giraffes as could crowd in were sticking their necks up from belowdecks.

Rafael looked back at Bug God.  He had never been asked to kill a god before.

"Squash him, Rafael," Giraffe God said.

Rafael looked at Bug God, and then past him, to the island that was less than a quarter-mile away.  He could hear the cries for help, and the roars, and the barks from the zebra.

"Are you going to squash me?" asked Bug God.

Rafael turned to Giraffe God.

"His offer was worth considering, wasn't it?" Rafael asked.

"No," Giraffe God said.

Giraffe God had not known that all the other animal gods would die, but he figured that he and Human God would share the power, somehow.  However it worked, he stood to be pretty powerful in the antediluvian world.

"I don't want to kill him, though," Rafael said.

"Then I will do it!" Giraffe God said, with a snarl, and he strode over and shoved Rafael harshly over the side of the ark.  Rafael fell into the swirling, muddy, death-tainted waters that covered 98% of the world, and heard a voice howl his name, with the high keening sadness that can only be produced by a sob echoing up and out an incredibly long neck.  There was another splash, but in the rain and the wind and his fear and his disappointment Rafael could not see much other than the glowing, fiery Giraffe God rearing up above the tiny but incredibly bright Bug God.  Giraffe God shot lightning from his horns and fire from his eyes.  Bug God spit steam and poison from his pores, and the two would have battled but another voice cried out over the water.

"DO NOT KILL HIM GIRAFFE GOD!" and everyone paused.

On the top of the mountain, where she must have climbed to make herself heard, was Turtle God, her tiny head sticking out of a beautiful shell speckled with jewels and silver flecks.

The entire world -- might as well say it, that was all that was left, the people on that mountain, Giraffe ark, and the other four arks that were somewhere off north of Noah's valley, which was now fully underwater.  There were, as you'll remember, three arks, one of Noah's family with only two of every animal, except giraffes, which had all come on Giraffe Ark.  There was also the elephant-and-lemur ark, and the sheep ark. Briefly, you should know: those arks did not make it.  Sheep Ark drifted northward until it hit the North Pole and all the sheep froze to death, the ark itself being swallowed by the ice that formed over it.  Elephant-and-lemur ark offended two whales who to teach it a lesson pushed the ark off the edge of the world.  The ark with the leopard and the panda, meanwhile, befell some mysterious fate.  It was found, empty, later on, with only a note inside.  "Needs more strawberry," the note said, encouragingly -- the entire world froze at Turtle God's voice, and everyone looked at her.

"The only hope we have is to band together, to get as many of us onto the animal ark as we can, a God of each animal and an equal number of followers of each animal, and together we will weather then next 19 days of rain and the time of the flooding and when the waters recede, animals will still have their gods and the world will remain ours, as well."

The animals, and the remaining humans, blinked at that thought.

The remaining humans thought it sounded bad for them.

The giraffes realized that some of them would be sacrificed.

"Already," Turtle God said, "Elephant God is dying, as is Lemur God," and it was true.  They could see the two broken, feeble gods, near where the water lapped at the edge of the island, still rising.  Neither could move much.  Lemur God managed a faint salute.

"Let us aboard!" cried Turtle God.  "Choose lots among yourselves.  Save as many of as many as we can."

Silence, for a longer period of time than Rafael could have believed.  He treaded water and listened to the constant pattering splash of ever more rain joining the already incredible amount of water.

Silence, still.

Then Giraffe God lifted a foot and ground Bug God into the wall of the ark.

The bugs on the island rose up, a massive cloud of anger and loss, and the other gods roared and told their charges to help them, and the animals, some with humans riding them, swarmed off the island.  Those that could fly did so, and those that could swim, did so, and those that could do neither found themselves helped along, as two buffalo rode the back of an orca to the ark, which found itself under attack.

Animals and their gods swarmed the ark, pushing, pulling, biting, tearing, climbing.  Giraffe God stood atop it, his bright yellow glowing body dramatic against the cloud-filled, rain-sopped sky. Giraffe God's eyes gleamed with righteous anger as he and the giraffe defended their ark, flames and lightning and sandstorms and pounding hooves squaring off against waves and arrows and teeth and claws, the tumult of it threatening to drown out the storm that was ending the world.

Rafael was pulled under.

He struggled, water in his eyes and mouth and nose, and gasped water in and was held there, down down down below the water, watching helplessly as the battle above receded, the thundrous sounds of every animal living fighting every other animal living becoming muted by the ever-thicker water above him.  Down down down he was pulled, until the water was inky black above him and around him and he could see nothing.  Down down down until he felt he must have died, so complete was the silence and thickness, and then there was a bright flare above, looking like a star in the night sky, and he knew that giraffe ark was lost.

A mouth met his and kissed him, and he felt the roping lengthy soft lips of another giraffe, kissing him and pushing air into his mouth, and although he could not see he was grateful for it.

He was not being pulled down anymore.

He was in a pitchblack dark soft quiet space, held there by something on his leg.  He knew another giraffe was here but could not see even in front of his eyes any other thing.  He kept his mouth closed and sat still, bidding his thin breath of air to hold out for as long as possible.

Then he was rising, floating up to the top, faster and faster as the water became less dense and less dark.  When he began to float through broken boards and bent nails, when he began to realize the water was littered with the dead from the island and the ark, he closed his eyes until he felt his head pop through the surface.

It was night, and the rain still fell, and lightning flared from time to time.  He breathed air and paddled his thin legs with all his might, keeping his head and not much more afloat.

Next to him another head appeared.

"Thank you!" he heard a female giraffe's voice sputter, and a squid below burbled its response.

"Swim Rafael, swim," the female told him.  He did not know her.

"Swim," she said, "For we are the future of giraffes now."


Yaz alleged side effects result in lawsuits.

If you or someone you know has taken Yaz, you need to check out this drugrisk recall information.  Yaz has been used as birth control by more than 80,000,000 women, but there has grown a serious concern over the safety of the product.  To date, 10,000 lawsuits have been filed, according to this site: drugrisk yaz, and the FDA published a study showing that Yaz increased the risk of blood clots by 74%, creating serious risks including stroke.

Don't hesitate: get the information from that site if you may be at risk.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Today's featured #helpwolverton book

Indie Authors For Ben Wolverton are donating profits from the sales of their books for the month of May to help Ben Wolverton recover from a terrible accident.  Read more about Ben here






Nightingale, (sci-fi) by David Farland.  David is Ben's dad, with two books to buy.  Nightingale, a speculative fiction book about a young man raised in foster care who learns he can sing and affect evil, and Million Dollar Outlines, a nonfiction book to help writers learn to write better outlines.  The books start at $6.99 in pretty much every format.

To buy either of these books, CLICK THIS LINK.







 INDIE  AUTHORS  FOR 

BEN WOLVERTON!








The Lost Road Chronicles 
(ya/speculative fiction) by J. Leigh Bralick, The "Lost Road" Chronicles begin with "Down a Lost Road," in which a 16-year old uncovers family secrets and gets swept into Earth's mystical past.)

CLICK HERE IF YOU WANT TO HELP BEN BY BUYING ONE OR MORE OF J. LEIGH BRALICK'S BOOKS ON AMAZON.





Books by Briane Pagel.  Pagel is the indie author of books like

Eclipse, a harrowing sci-fi story about an astronaut who wanted nothing more than to reach the stars, and did so -- but it took murder to get there.  Or did it?

the After: Saoirse's life didn't begin until she died in a plane crash. But with everything perfect in the After, why is she so unhappy? With the help of a possibly-unfriendly William Howard Taft, Saoirse looks for, in her afterlife, the meaning she never had in her life.

The Scariest Things, You CAN'T Imagine: short horror stories that will leave you lying awake at night wishing you'd stuck with something lighter.  Try "The Grave-Robbers," in which New Sam learns that there have been a lot of prior Sams born to Mom and Dad.  And they're all down in the catacombs...

All these books and more, just $0.99 on your Kindle.

CLICK HERE IF YOU WANT TO HELP BEN BY BUYING ONE OR MORE OF BRIANE'S BOOKS FROM AMAZON.



BOOKS BY RUSTY CARL:  

Rusty is a master artist and the author of several books:

A Dead God's Wrath (spec fic/novella): A mysterious stranger shows up to help avenge a brutal murder, unlocking magic of the best, and worst, kind in a sleepy 1895 western town.

War Angel: Like your romance with a bit of adventure and history? In this story, a young man learns of his grandmother's remarkable escape from Nazi Germany with the help of a dashing stranger.






Books by S.K. Valenzuela:

S.K. Valenzuela writes the Silesia series: Silesia: The Outworlder,
and The Lords Of Askalon:  Freed when her prison ship crashes, aided by a rogue fugitive, Saraha is trying to foment a rebellions against the Dragon-Lords. 

CLICK HERE TO HELP BEN BY BUYING ONE OF S.K.'S BOOKS ON AMAZON.











"Unfettered: Tales From The Masters Of Fantasy," an anthology of fantasy works that is offering ARCs right now.  Proceeds from the first fifty books sold will help Ben Wolverton recover, and the books will be autographed by some big names in fantasy including Terry Brooks and Shawn Speakman, so click this link to go buy your ADVANCED COPY of this awesome-sounding book.
















 B.J. Baye's book, "Desperate Upload,"

 A young boy is all that stands between a commando team from Mars and a deadly attack on Earth's orbital station. Jon Whyte is a kid born and raised on his family's freighter Stardream as it carries cargo all over the solar system. On a yearly return to Earth Station, the Stardream is intercepted by a commando team of marines from Mars, who are ready to strike the first blow against Earth in a war of independence. BONUS STORY: Four Minutes A young single mother finds herself the target of the Men in Black.

That's two stories for the price of one!  Get B.J.'s book on Amazon by clicking here




Want to join? Cut and paste that part, put it on your blog, add your info, and let me know it's there.  I'll post about you, too, and add you to the lis

Monday, May 13, 2013

E Cigarettes may be an option for you.

I quit smoking about 10 years ago now, so I know how hard it can be to give up, reduce, or alter that habit.  But if you can't give up smoking, maybe you can make it a little more socially acceptable and a little less harmful, by using an e cigaret.  As I understand them, they don't have smoke, but have water vapor, and eliminate most if not all of the harmful substances in regular tobacco smoke.  So if you find yourself unable to quit smoking, check out that link.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Welcome a new author to the #helpwolverton team! (Indie Authors For Ben Wolverton)

The newest Indie Author to join the drive to help raise funds to contribute to Ben Wolverton's recovery is B.J. Baye.

B.J., who blogs here, and can be found on Twitter here, is the author of "Desperate Upload,"

 A young boy is all that stands between a commando team from Mars and a deadly attack on Earth's orbital station. Jon Whyte is a kid born and raised on his family's freighter Stardream as it carries cargo all over the solar system. On a yearly return to Earth Station, the Stardream is intercepted by a commando team of marines from Mars, who are ready to strike the first blow against Earth in a war of independence. BONUS STORY: Four Minutes A young single mother finds herself the target of the Men in Black.


That's two stories for the price of one!  Get B.J.'s book on Amazon by clicking here




 INDIE  AUTHORS  FOR 

BEN WOLVERTON!





Indie Authors For Ben Wolverton are donating profits from the sales of their books for the month of May to help Ben Wolverton recover from a terrible accident.  Read more about Ben here




Nightingale, (sci-fi) by David Farland.  David is Ben's dad, with two books to buy.  Nightingale, a speculative fiction book about a young man raised in foster care who learns he can sing and affect evil, and Million Dollar Outlines, a nonfiction book to help writers learn to write better outlines.  The books start at $6.99 in pretty much every format.

To buy either of these books, CLICK THIS LINK.

The Lost Road Chronicles 
(ya/speculative fiction) by J. Leigh Bralick, The "Lost Road" Chronicles begin with "Down a Lost Road," in which a 16-year old uncovers family secrets and gets swept into Earth's mystical past.)

CLICK HERE IF YOU WANT TO HELP BEN BY BUYING ONE OR MORE OF J. LEIGH BRALICK'S BOOKS ON AMAZON.





Books by Briane Pagel.  Pagel is the indie author of books like

Eclipse, a harrowing sci-fi story about an astronaut who wanted nothing more than to reach the stars, and did so -- but it took murder to get there.  Or did it?

the After: Saoirse's life didn't begin until she died in a plane crash. But with everything perfect in the After, why is she so unhappy? With the help of a possibly-unfriendly William Howard Taft, Saoirse looks for, in her afterlife, the meaning she never had in her life.

The Scariest Things, You CAN'T Imagine: short horror stories that will leave you lying awake at night wishing you'd stuck with something lighter.  Try "The Grave-Robbers," in which New Sam learns that there have been a lot of prior Sams born to Mom and Dad.  And they're all down in the catacombs...

All these books and more, just $0.99 on your Kindle.

CLICK HERE IF YOU WANT TO HELP BEN BY BUYING ONE OR MORE OF BRIANE'S BOOKS FROM AMAZON.



BOOKS BY RUSTY CARL:  

Rusty is a master artist and the author of several books:

A Dead God's Wrath (spec fic/novella): A mysterious stranger shows up to help avenge a brutal murder, unlocking magic of the best, and worst, kind in a sleepy 1895 western town.

War Angel: Like your romance with a bit of adventure and history? In this story, a young man learns of his grandmother's remarkable escape from Nazi Germany with the help of a dashing stranger.






Books by S.K. Valenzuela:

S.K. Valenzuela writes the Silesia series: Silesia: The Outworlder,
and The Lords Of Askalon:  Freed when her prison ship crashes, aided by a rogue fugitive, Saraha is trying to foment a rebellions against the Dragon-Lords. 

CLICK HERE TO HELP BEN BY BUYING ONE OF S.K.'S BOOKS ON AMAZON.











"Unfettered: Tales From The Masters Of Fantasy," an anthology of fantasy works that is offering ARCs right now.  Proceeds from the first fifty books sold will help Ben Wolverton recover, and the books will be autographed by some big names in fantasy including Terry Brooks and Shawn Speakman, so click this link to go buy your ADVANCED COPY of this awesome-sounding book.












Want to join? Cut and paste that part, put it on your blog, add your info, and let me know it's there.  I'll post about you, too, and add you to the list!


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