I know I’ve spent a lot of time the last couple of weeks keeping you up to date on the dumpster fire that is the Other Job. Now it’s time to update you on the good stuff– otherwise known as what I’ve been writing.

Inspired by real-life events, I’ve been working on a series of short science fiction stories about the experiences of a Load Master working for Baron Cargo, a fly-by-night freight hauling outfit operating on a backwater iceball planet. Lowered Expectations went live on Patreon on November 19th, and highlights the often catastrophic results of the “we’re not going to worry about this problem right now– it’ll be fine” style of management.

Continue reading “Looking Ahead”

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In the distance, distorted by the nutrient gel filling the stasis tank, klaxons blared.

The vat’s seal popped, exposing him to the sting of cold, dry ship-board air. Marc’s breather unit detached, followed by the connections that kept his body functioning through the long dark sleep. The klaxon became louder, more immediate.

Red emergency lights strobed as he opened his eyes, illuminating a dimly lit storage hold. He had just enough time to realize that this was not the comfortable passenger carrier he’d gone to sleep on before the stasis pod tilted upright and dumped him out on the dirty metal decking. The nutrient gel steamed as it flowed down a conveniently located drain. Icy metal welcomed him, naked and shivering, back into the real world.

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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”

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The Interspecies Poker Tournament by Claire Buss

Chief Thief-Catcher Ned Spinks, along with his rag-tag band of mostly-supernatural fellow Thief-Catchers, have been tasked by the fey community with catching the most dangerous thief of all: a stealer of life.

The murderer has been targeting communities of supernatural creatures one by one, from the brownies to the dryads to the mer folk, and each victim has been killed in the most insulting way possible for their race. The murdered gingerbread man was dunked in milk. The naiad (water nymph) was left on dry land. And the deceased brownie, a race that’s fond of cake and notoriously intolerant of vegetables, was left in a salad bowl. Curiously, the only thing the survivors can seem to agree on is the existence of a suspicious mustache.

Continue reading “Review: The Interspecies Poker Tournament”

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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”

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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. New to this series? Check out Part I here  and Part II here.

Meet Kedric introduces a new character to the narrative, law enforcement officer Scott Kedric. In Alaska, law enforcement aren’t always the good guys– and Officer Kedric is no exception.

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

Village Public Safety Officer Scott Kedric hated the rain, which made it especially ironic that he was perpetually posted where the weather did little else.

The sedate drizzles of summer had given way to August and September’s storms, and the trailing edge of some big tropical number was hammering the Alaskan coast for all it was worth. Icy rain pelted his face with the ferocity of thrown gravel and trickled in cold rivulets down his collar. Kedric gritted his teeth as he eased the state-issued watercraft around the docks, hunting for a tell-tale flash of bright blue.

A delegation of Resource Management officials had arrived on a private flight that morning, and already one of the city slickers was missing. He’d wandered away from the group’s minder as the delegation toured the waterfront tourist shops.

A former banker from Oregon, Randall Johnson brought investment savvy and a hint of greenie tree-hugger sensibilities to the State’s Board of Resource Management. It was common knowledge that he wasn’t well-liked by the pro-Conlin crowd, and there were plenty of off-duty miners out despite the rain. Resource Management wasn’t particularly well liked by the Alaska Native population, either, so it was anybody’s guess who’d nabbed the guy.

Unfortunately it fell to VPSO Kedric to find the man, or whatever was left of him. Kedric swore under his breath and fervently wished that someone could have offed the greenie in decent weather. Preferably in a village that wasn’t in his jurisdiction.

Continue reading “Between A Rock & A Storm Part III: Meet Kedric”

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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. New to this series? Check out Part I here.

The surf roared against the narrow beach, and an icy rain pelted their faces as the trio stared at each other over the body of the dead visitor in the bright blue parka. Ava was the first to speak.

“I think he must be from out of state. They’re the only ones who wear parkas in August.”

“I recognize this guy,” Danny said. “I saw him getting off the plane that came in this morning. He’s one of the Resource Management guys who came to meet with the ‘Ammas. They were all bundled up like they expected a snow storm.”

“Good riddance,” Cam spat.

“This is bad,” Ava said, chewing her lip. “Think they’re looking for him yet?”

Continue reading “Between A Rock & A Storm Part II: A Clue”

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storm and rocks in the North Pacific

Steely grey swells rolled under leaden skies as Danny steered the skiff around the tip of Dog-Ear Point. He released the throttle and let the craft glide to a stop beside the faded plastic buoy that marked one of his family’s few remaining crab pots. Ava snagged the chain with her boat hook, and together she and Cam hoisted the pot into the skiff.

“Empty,” Cam spat. “Munchers even took the bait.”

“We’ll reset it after the storm passes.” Danny chose not to comment on the fact that it was their tenth and final empty pot of the day. If they didn’t get lucky in the tide pools, none of them would be having dinner.

Continue reading “Between A Rock & A Storm”

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Blood & Bluegrass

Author’s note: Blood and Bluegrass takes place immediately after the events of The Moon Buck. If you haven’t already, take a moment to give the previous story a read!

The tracks were the same.

Annabelle stared at the impressions in the muddy leaf mold, ears ringing from a sudden surge of adrenaline.

The story was there, trampled by the searchers that found her sweetheart’s body, the coroner, sheriff, and crime scene investigators.

Jeremiah’s tracks picked their way through the brush from the road. He’d staggered mid-step and fallen to his knees, his boots cutting gouges in the dirt. A larger set of tracks followed his, superimposed over his prints in a few places but the same age. The tread on the second set of boots was chunky, size fourteen, and brand new. Their owner was standing right behind her, calling her name.

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The Red Wind of an Alien World

The wind wailed through the remains of the outpost, burying corroded machinery in a shifting tide of fine red silt.

“This is pointless,” Lyndie said, not for the first time, from the right seat of the lander. “You think there’s going to be anything salvageable left in there?” He waved a scarred hand at a cavernous hole in the side of one of the derelict hangars.

“With that asteroid field up there? I think so,” Neff grunted back. “I don’t see many scavengers risking their lives for the chance at the scrap from an outpost this small.”

Lyndie snorted. “We did. And scrap? More like battery packs. Weapons. Field generators. Maybe even antigrav flyers. Just look at the size of those buildings. This wasn’t no farmers’ outpost!”

“Exactly,” Neff growled, piloting the battered craft to a gentle touchdown on a field of silt. “Good stuff. Stuff we need.”

“Think we’re the only ones to have that idea?” his copilot shot back. “Either everything good is long gone, or it’s booby-trapped. Remember Prima-5-Centauri? The FCP doesn’t leave their outposts for looters.”

“Who says its a FCP post?” Neff grumbled as he pulled on his helmet and locked its seal to the collar ring of his EVE suit.

“Oh, great. Alien tech. I feel so much better.” Lyndie’s sarcasm was apparent even over the radio connection afforded by the sealed extra-vehicular exploration suits.

“Could be some exploration firm’s abandoned field station. Quadrant’s littered with ‘em.” Neff pulled his rifle from the charging station and popped the hatch.

Continue reading “Wind of an Alien World”

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