People don’t like unrest. They don’t like challenges to the status quo. Or, at least, that’s what I’ve noticed about a certain percent of the population every time something like the death of George Floyd happens. I guess we (marginalized groups, the poor) are supposed to just shrug and keep going every time one of ours gets murdered.

What happened to George Floyd should never happen in a free and democratic nation; and it doesn’t escape me that we are far from living up to the freedom and equality the United States allegedly stands for. I support those protesting for change. I support those rioting in outrage. Silence and complacency kill.

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

This is an excerpt from a short story I wrote way back in 2011. I was going through a particularly rough patch, and I channeled it into a story about a guy haunted by loss and a series of unforgivable mistakes. It’s something of a dark science fiction mystery. Enjoy!

Ethan knew how this worked.

The assistant in the crisp white scrubs would read the questions to him one by one to verify the answers he had given on the form. It was his job to sit on the edge of the paper-lined exam table and give the man the answers he wanted.

“Occupation?”

“Job seeker.”

“Parents?”

“Deceased.”

“Spouse? Children?”

“No. None.”

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

storm and rocks in the North Pacific

When the body of an influential visitor washes up on a remote Alaskan beach, Danny, Ava, and Cam find themselves in a storm of trouble.
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

Warning: this episode contains imagery that may be disturbing for those who have experienced violence at the hands of law enforcement.

Halfway between the Old Village docks and the new airport, the rain turned from heavy to torrential. Water flooded the muddy road, falling faster than it could run away. Cam swore under his breath; his old raincoat was less than waterproof, and now he could add being soaked to the skin to his list of problems.

A collection of weathered metal buildings marked the edge of the airport. The largest was the airport manager’s office, the de facto entry and exit point those arriving and departing the village. Cam could just make out the shadow of a Cessna Grand Caravan on the gravel apron beyond the row of buildings.

He squared his shoulders and pushed open the door that led into the terminal. To his disappointment, the battered wooden benches were empty. A pot of stale coffee simmered on an ancient hot plate at the back of the room, under yellow florescent lights that had probably been manufactured before Cam’s parents were born.

He made a beeline for the coffee. It smelled like death and was just on the liquid side of sludge, but it was free. Cam poured himself a cup and used it to warm away the chill in his hands as he took in the cramped passenger lobby. Someone had left their backpack on a chair; it was bright blue, like the murdered outsider’s jacket. He wandered over to look at it. North Face brand. Expensive.

“Hey, stay away from that!” the airport manager snapped.

Continue reading “Between A Rock & A Storm Part V: Cam Goes Down”

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

storm and rocks in the North Pacific

When the body of an influential visitor washes up on a remote Alaskan beach, Danny, Ava, and Cam find themselves in a storm of trouble.
Part I
Part II
Part III

“Is he gone?” Ava asked, her voice barely audible above the falling rain and the rush and splash of the tide.

Danny scanned the network of docks and the rainy gray ocean beyond as he lifted the last crab pot onto the pier. He nodded.

Neither of them mentioned what had just happened as they finished unloading the skiff, but the image of the Village Public Safety Officer pulling his weapon and pointing it at her remained frozen in Ava’s mind. All because she’d been hungry and picked the wrong moment to pull a meal bar out of her pocket.

Continue reading “Between A Rock & A Storm Part IV: Ava”

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Cover of Dead Inside by Barry J Hutchison

In Dead Inside, deceased detective Dan Deadman’s life takes a darker turn. And that’s saying a lot for a series that started out with Dan hunting a child-snatching serial killer.

The action opens with a car chase and doesn’t slow down much thereafter as Dan, Olly, and Artur investigate stolen children, straying spouses, a series of grizzly ritual murders, and a visitor from the Malwhere more nightmarishly powerful than any they’ve faced before.

It’s also dark– very dark. Although it’s hard to name a favorite chapter of a book this good, mine would probably be when Dan and Ollie find themselves in the Malwhere. Ollie runs into her ‘father,’ the hideously evil entity that kidnapped her as a small child. And Dan… Dan relives his own death.

Continue reading “Review: Dead Inside”

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Southwest Flight 1380

On April 17th, 2018, as Southwest Flight 1380 flew over Pennsylvania, a fan blade shattered in one of the Boeing 737’s engines. The resulting uncontained engine failure flung shrapnel into the aircraft’s fuselage, destroying a window and claiming the life of passenger Jennifer Riordan.

Jet engines on commercial aircraft are built to contain malfunctions within the engine casing, as pieces from the engine can exit at a high rate of speed. An uncontained failure is one in which the shrapnel escapes the engine housing.

The faulty fan blade was produced by CFM International, a joint venture of General Electric and France’s Safran S.A. This manufacturer had been under increased scrutiny since Southwest Flight 3472 suffered a similar uncontained engine failure over Florida in 2016.

In the case of Flight 3472, metal shrapnel also sliced into the fuselage and breached the protection barrier. With pressure escaping from the cabin, oxygen masks dropped and the pilots were forced to bring the aircraft into a descent so that passengers could breathe. The front edge of the jet’s wing, horizontal tail stabilizer, and winglet were also damaged.

At this point you may be asking why this tragedy was allowed to happen after the FAA, the manufacturer, and the airline all knew there was a problem. The answer is as ugly as you’d think.

Continue reading “Safety vs Profit: The Pursuit of a Fatter Bottom Line Claims Another Life”

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

 

Corrupt GVEA Logo

One of the hallmarks of my writing is an unflinching appraisal of the problems within our society, and what it says about where we’re headed. This commentary is heavily influenced by my own experiences. Enraging, traumatic, frustrating or humorous, in the end it’s all story fuel one way or another. What follows is a humorous look at some recent battles with my electric company.

Inspiration struck last night when I noticed that my ISP hadn’t charged my credit card when they should have.
GCI rep: We’d be happy to look into that for you. What’s your passcode?
Me: Heck if I know. I only have to call you guys once every couple of years. I’m really surprised your new e-bill system lost my payment– you guys are usually the opposite of GVEA.

For reference, Golden Valley Electric Association is my electric company and the gold standard of suck. Shortly after that conversation with my ISP’s billing department, my neighborhood was struck by a blackout.

GVEA: THAT’S for having the gall to criticize our broken payment system and lousy service.
Me: For freak’s sake, it’s barely even windy!
GVEA: I’m sorry, our outage line is currently out of service.

Continue reading “Commonplace Corruption”

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

 

A huge wasp nest in a birch tree.

This has been a week full of unfortunate events and unpleasant discoveries.

The company I work for is having a rough time and there have been rumblings of internal upheaval, yet somehow the gears of corruption and good-ol’-boy favors keep turning. On the home front, I discovered a basketball-sized wasp nest hidden in the woods west of my house.

As you might imagine, both situations involve unpleasantness I’d rather stay far removed from. But when you discover a hive of scum and villainy right in your own back yard, what do you do?

Continue reading “Unpleasant Revelations”

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •