Eternalised: Lovecraft’s Dark Philosophy Of Cosmicism

Trying to get into Lovecraft’s way of thinking, if he were alive today.

Descrip: Lovecraft’s dark philosophy of cosmic horror is known as Cosmicism, which focuses on the insignificance of humanity and its doings at the cosmos-at-large, in contrast to the anthropocentric philosophies in which many find intellectual reassurance. This form of non-anthropocentrism is crucial to the philosophy of Cosmicism.

Curious Archive: The Scariest Genre Of Science Fiction

So, I typed in ‘science fiction heroines’ on Youtube, and I got this about ten entries down. Go figure. Anyway, I’d kind of forgotten about the Annihilation movie. Maybe I should watch that one again. There is some good stuff here!

Descrip: If I were to ask you ‘what is the scariest type of science fiction?’ you probably wouldn’t say ‘Evolutionary Horror.’ …Mainly because it’s a name I came up with for this video, but also because it doesn’t sound particularly frightening. Evolution isn’t scary… or is it? Twisting through the history of sci-fi is a hidden subgenre that derives terror from the altered self — from the uncanny dread of a force beyond our control evolving the human into the inhuman. So, for this entry into the archive, we’ll uncover the terrors of this category, and dive into the type of sci-fi that I find the most fear-provoking of all…

Smashwords Read An Ebook Week, March 5th Through 11th

From March 5th through 11th, Smashwords is having their Read An Ebook Week promotion. All of my titles will be reduced by 50%, with a few prices dropped so low they’re ending up at FREE! That’s 30 titles you can stock up on!

A breakdown of what’s available:

The Case Of The Missing Q-Drives – 99 cents!

The Throwback – $1.49

Verum Et Inventa Magazine – all eight issues, always FREE!

The World Changers – $2.99

Roaches In The Attic 2 – Independence – $2.99

Inspired By M.C. – $3.49

The Weeping Thing – 99 cents!

The Zombie Seven 1 – Hell’s Gate, And Beyond – $4.49

Raymund & Natalie’s Grand Adventure – $2.99

Before The Seven 2 – Scary Peter – $2.99

Thorns – True Tales Of The Weird – $2.49

Monster Mayhem – $2.49

Apocalypse Now! – $2.99

Roaches In The Attic 1 – First Contact – $3.99

The Black Cellar – $3.49

Dobrynia’s Path 2 – Ragnarok – $2.99

Before The Seven 1 – Don Diego Meets Lucky Luis – $2.49

Dobrynia’s Path 1 – Dark Harbinger – $2.49

The Two Sides Of Humburg – FREE

A Terrible Thing To Waste – $2.49

Demonic Murmurs – $2.49

Two Bedroom Cottage For Rent – FREE

Variant Worlds 1 – $2.49

Roaches In The Attic 0 – Non-Retrieval – FREE

Book Review: Neuromancer by William Gibson

You can read this book online on several sites, including On PDF Whale, you can download the PDF version free, and you’ll also find a link to the author reading the full book on Youtube. Link to PDF Whale’s Neuromancer page.

I read the book, and I listened to a 2 hour radio play produced by the BBC, which was pretty cool to listen to, and it helped me get a better grasp on the story. Here’s a link to the radio play. My review is below the vid.

Descrip: Here is the BBC radio play of the novel that started it all, launching the cyberpunk generation, and the first novel to win the holy trinity of science fiction: the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award and the Philip K. Dick Award. With Neuromancer, William Gibson introduced the world to cyberspace–and science fiction has never been the same.

Case was the hottest computer cowboy cruising the information superhighway–jacking his consciousness into cyberspace, soaring through tactile lattices of data and logic, rustling encoded secrets for anyone with the money to buy his skills. Then he double-crossed the wrong people, who caught up with him in a big way–and burned the talent out of his brain, micron by micron. Banished from cyberspace, trapped in the meat of his physical body, Case courted death in the high-tech underworld. Until a shadowy conspiracy offered him a second chance–and a cure–for a price..


This book was published in 1984. It has so much to unpack! If it were released today, for the first time, it would still make a major impact on bestseller lists. As a testament to the genius of the author, not only does it stand up to modern cyberpunk, but it continues to offer a lot in terms of advancing the genre forward. The Matrix Trilogy of movies, as great as it was, is a watered down version of Gibson’s work. As far as movie comparisons, I found Neuromancer as good as the Bladerunner movies, and as far as literature, it ranks just below Dan Simmon’s Hyperion as the second best sci-fi novel I’ve read in the last 20 years.

Nearly everything you can guess as a cyberpunk trope is jammed into this novel, from the loss of humanity to artificial intelligence, to AI becoming sentient, to hackers trying to get into sensitive computer networks, except it was Gibson who had the first real grasp of all of these complex ideas, and who thrust them into the collective awareness like a hybrid fetus of man and machine. Is this a perfect novel?

No, I think, because it reads like an action-packed TV show, in that it jumps from one location or situation to another with no breathing room in between, and it forces the reader to have to run along to keep up. At times, it reads more like a James Bond fast and loose espionage thriller, with the protagonists nation-hopping all over continents and revealing only street level descriptions for each location, including outer space. Also, the novel assumes too readily that the reader is familiar with a ton of specialized hacker jargon, so if you don’t catch it right away, and absorb it, Gibson does not take much time to remind you about it later. Lastly, the ending is a little soft, in that one antagonist in particular is not dealt with in a satisfying way, but overall Gibson did tie up all the loose ends well for a broad conclusion that could (and did) lead to sequels. Overall, however, Gibson’s descriptions, innovations and thematic grandness are top-notch, and that’s why I rate this novel at a resounding 5 stars.

Sonja’s Adventures: The 6 Biggest LARP Genres

The genres are medieval fantasy, post apocalypse, vampire, historical, sci fi / cyberpunk, and horror / mystery eras. I wasn’t familiar with all of these, and am looking to see how they make things work. Let’s see if I can find a vid on a Mad Max or cyberpunk LARP next.

Descrip: Live Action Roleplaying – or “Larping” – is a hobby of thousands of people worldwide. There are many settings in LARP – and today, I show you the 6 biggest.

The World Changers: sci fi / fantasy novel now available

Recently re-released and reformatted. This novel is rather complicated to put into any one genre. It’s partly modern day paranormal / spiritual, based on my actual experiences and research, and it’s partly Iron Age fantasy set in Ancient Canaan. This novel is currently available for $5.99 at Smashwords, and the 9th in my Chaos Rift series.

About this series: The Chaos Rift is meant to shake you out of your comfort zone. It is meant to strip away those rose-tinted glasses that keep you complacent, to show you the world as it really is, and also to show you how alternate worlds might really be, based on what has been seen and done here, what has been created and imagined, in our own reality. There are moments or triumph and levity, as there are in real life, but when the pendulum swings, it will go a long way into the shadows. Many of these titles are not for the many, but for the few. Are you one of those few? You have been warned. The Chaos Rift begins here.

Series page on Smashwords.

About this title: What is the nature of our reality? What is truth? What is fantasy? Perhaps it is time for us to break the paradigms of the mind, dogma, history and the universe all around us. This tale begins in the present, but the adventure is more profound than you can imagine. Let us travel to pre-Biblical Canaan, a time when the gods shook the Earth to defy the World Changers. Rating: HIGH controversy.

Title page on Smashwords.

An excerpt from The World Changers.

It was a little awkward for Alyssa to stand there in the great room, naked except for the semi-transparent suit, while waiting for her body heat to activate the material. They decided it was the only practical way. If Alyssa went to change into the suit in another room, it was entirely possible that Oscar would not know when she’d come back. He wouldn’t be able to hear her or make any other observations because his brain could potentially refuse to acknowledge that she was standing there in front of him. In the end, they stood side by side, looking away from one another, uncomfortably, but maintaining a point of contact by holding each other’s hands.

“Is it working?” Alyssa asked, after about five minutes of waiting.

Oscar glanced down at their hands. While they were still clasped, he brought them up to eye level. “Look.”

Clearly, she could see Oscar’s arm and the curled fingers of his hand around hers. Her hand and arm, strangely enough, were now gone.

“Okay, I’m going to let you go.” Oscar instructed her. “I want you to stand in front of me for a couple of seconds. After that, walk over to the bathroom and take a look at yourself in the mirror. Keep talking or making some sort of noise, so I’ll know where you are.”

Nervously, Alyssa stood right in front of him. “Well?”

“I can still see your boobies.” Oscar smiled.

“Really?” She covered up her chest with both arms.

“No, I was joking. I can’t see you at all.” He said.

This prompted Alyssa to reach out and give him a playful slap on the shoulder.

“Hey, I felt that!”

Alyssa started laughing. “Okay, I’m going to the bathroom now.”

“Keep making some sort of noise, like I told you to.” Oscar reminded her, as he took a seat and began writing down notes.

As she made her way to the bathroom, Alyssa decided to hum to herself. The bathroom mirror did not show her the image she was accustomed to seeing. She felt a little weird about that, as if she were a vampire gazing at its missing reflection for the very first time. She didn’t even cast a shadow anymore.

“How do you feel?” Oscar called out.

“Normal. Well, a little warm, even though I shouldn’t be warm because I’m naked.”

“Are you thinking clearly? No dizziness, no fear or anxiety?”

“No, nothing like that.”

“I didn’t think there would be, but I just wanted to make sure. Okay, let’s go out for some burritos.”

William Gibson: Technology, Science Fiction And The Apocalypse

Gibson is a bit of a dry speaker, but if you’d like to get an idea of his thought process and world view, here you go.

Descrip: On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of his landmark novel “Neuromancer,” CHF favorite William Gibson returns to the Festival. This autumn he’ll celebrate the publication of his latest work, “The Peripheral,” a high-tech thriller set partly in a decadent postapocalyptic future. Gibson is joined in conversation by author Carol Anshaw. This program was recorded on November 6, 2014

William Gibson’s Cyberpunk (1990 Documentary)

I had no idea just how much of a visionary Gibson is. Back then, he described himself as computer illiterate, writing his novels down on a manual typewriter, and partially thanks to him we’ve got Virtual Reality, MMOs and advanced cybernetics. I’m sure you can lump dancing robots and drones in there as evolutionary off-shoots to this man’s imagination. Oh, wait. P.K. Dick described remote controlled attack drones way back in the 1950s (not to mention Star Trek type communicators!).

Anyway, I’m looking into cyberpunk because it feels very likely that I’ll be jumping into the genre for my next writing project. I have a more recent lecture by Gibson on my vid cue, which I will be listening to next.

Descrip: Cyberpunk is a 1990 documentary that explores the world that William Gibson invented with his book Neuromancer. The bulk of the documentary consists of interviews with Gibson, Jaron Lanier, Timothy Leary and Michael Synergy. A few industrial bands have their music featured as well.

A review by the guy who remastered the original video for Youtube is found here.

The documentary is also available through

Book Review: The Night Land by W.H. Hodgson

This book is in the public domain. I got my copy on Here is a direct link to the book page. Below is my review for the novel, as well as a setting description you can use in your own writing, RPG gaming or other creative projects.

Listen to the audiobook on Youtube:

The Night Land by William H. Hodgson

Reading date: 01.17.2023

Review – This book was published in 1912. I read Hodgson’s Borderlands book about a week before this one, and I thought I had an idea of what to expect, especially when I noticed my PDF copy has nearly 500 pages. The book starts off at a reasonable pace, and ends up that way, but the vast majority of it is travel time. The author goes well out of his way to stretch the journey out, even when nothing is happening in the story. Every story day, the author has to tell us that the main character stops to eat, stops to sleep, in many instances two or even up to four times on a single page. The main character will stop and philosophize often, for a page or two, on nothing important, nothing that furthers the story along, as he recalls memories from a past life or what he thinks might happen next. There are not enough monster encounters to keep the story lively. You would think there would be a pay-off after a battle with a strange creature, and sometimes there is, but other times the creature isn’t even described, and so the conflict falls flat after all that expectation that, please, let something exciting happen soon! There are good instances of suspense and battle descriptions, but they are few and far apart.

The main plot of the story is that the main character must make a long journey, find his lover and bring her back to his home location. After the tediousness and monotony of the first part of the journey, after he finds the lover the story actually gets worse. In addition to reading about how they eat and sleep, eat and sleep, often, we now have the main character philosophizing about love and romance, while walking deep in wild forests or volcanic fields. We get to read about how the lover has to do her hair up to look pretty for him, how naughty she is that she must be kissed every other page, or every page, and how she must even have her toes kissed, despite how many dangers lurk around every corner. If that isn’t bad enough, she starts running into the woods or other wild areas, playfully, lovingly, because she wants to be chased, until the main character has enough and begins beating her for it. But later on, he has forgiven her, and he plays his own ‘loving’ games, such as when he ties a strand of her hair around her feet, so she can’t run off anymore, and they both smile and kiss at how cute that is. Is this novel the predecessor of YA or what? Pardon me while I retch.

At the climax, every foe and monster lines up to prevent the protagonist from reaching home, even those that aren’t described, where the protagonist is half-dazed and fighting so much he can’t remember who he even fought. This is a major spoiler, but you probably won’t get as far as the end, if you do make the attempt to read this long, boring novel, so here goes. The lover dies, and that would have been satisfying to me after all the trouble she put the main character through. But stop! The power of love, yes, the power of love, fills the citizens of home, and the energy of that place conspire to bring the lover back to life. They live happily ever after, but I think she should have stayed dead after all that monotony, not to mention the long-winded despair and random musing the author put me through.

Don’t read this novel. Read the Borderlands book instead, and count yourself lucky. The Nightlands is as bad as reading the same five consecutive pages of the Borderlands book a good fifty times. Ten pages of boredom followed by a monster fight, rinse and repeat, and you’ll understand why I gave this book a 1 star rating.

Setting – Part 1

An exceptionally strong, young man lives in a mansion, surrounded by other mansions. This man happens upon a neighbor’s home, meeting a beautiful young woman whom he right away becomes fond of. They share an uncommon psychic bond and/or a kinship in their dreams. The man is attracted to this women, becomes smitten by her, and visits often. At one point, a small group of kidnappers attempts to take the woman, but the young man and the woman’s hounds repel the attack.

To test their love, the young woman visits town often, at night, to go dancing. This infuriates the young man, causing him to stay away from her. Later, he again visits her often. This time, the young woman asks her maid to dress as a suitor. In her manly clothing, the maid pretends to visit often and deceives the man into thinking he has a rival. When it seems that the young woman has more interest in the new ‘man,’ the young man is doubly infuriated and refuses to visit the young woman for a much longer time.

After a time, the young man’s heart convinces him to give the romance another try. He visits the young woman, who finally reveals the ruse and why she did it. They marry and spend many happy years together. Unfortunately, the woman dies during childbirth and the man is in many ways broken of spirit.

Part 2

The main character is born into another life, in a much different era, perhaps millions of years in the future. This era is bleak, with a dying sun overhead and great monsters everywhere. The main character is a gifted psychic, a quality venerated among his kind, and exalted to high positions with great responsibilities. As he uses his psychic gifts, he dreams of who he was in Part 1, and of the woman he once loved, and he remembers many things, considering them only musings, until the woman, who is also blessed with psychic powers, reaches out to him. They both remember who they once were in the ancient past. He can be with her again, he realizes, if he could only reach her, but he does not know where she is in that desolate world.

It isn’t easy to seek her out. His people have built a sanctuary in the shape of a giant pyramid, large enough to house millions. Near the pyramid are four mountains, lying in cardinal directions, but they are not merely mountains but massive evil beings who are slowly creeping toward the pyramid to devour it and the people inside, and to feed on their souls. The only thing preventing the mountains from coming closer is a force field based on that world’s ether, which repels the evil, and so they wait, these huge mountains, until they can strike.

The main character tells his peers of the woman, and the people she lives with, as he can see them, not always but sometimes, with his psychic mind. His peers look into past records, finding a group led by a rebellious leader, all of whom were banished from the great pyramid. The group traveled into the wilderness, in no specific direction, pursued and tormented by the wild creatures and other evil beings, such as giants. In time, they settled, building a smaller pyramid with a weaker force field around it. Even now, those people are struggling, and the force field waning. They will not last long against the menaces creeping ever closer.

In the great pyramid, the population sympathizes, but there is nothing they can do because they don’t know where the smaller group is, and even if they knew the location, they could not risk leaving their sanctuary. This angers a large group of young men or youths, who take arms and plot to leave the great pyramid at once, despite not knowing where to look. They go, and from the great pyramid observers watch their progress with powerful telescopes.

The army of youths fights off a number of giants, losing a good number of their kin. Part of their group splits off to return to the great pyramid. A new army is sent to retrieve them. Great cheers come from the pyramid when the adult men reach the returning youths, but this happiness is short lived. Another threat emerges, more powerful than the giants, capable of sucking human souls into it. Having no choice, the adult men sacrifice the returning youths, before the threat reaches and when it does, it destroys a large number of the adult army. The surviving adult men return to the pyramid, and the mothers cry for their lost sons.

Meanwhile, the remaining youths press forward, still seen in the far, far distance by the telescopes. A new threat emerges, a giant black house that mesmerizes the youths toward it, so it can eat their souls. From the great pyramid, great soundings are made, and psychic calls, to break the youths out of their spell. It seems to work. The youths recover their senses and start coming back home, until the giant black house increases its mesmerism and fully convinces the youths to enter its black door. The entire army of youths is eaten. The mothers cry again.

Part 3

After such calamity, of course the main character is compelled to leave the greater pyramid, alone. He is given to wear a suit of gray armor and armed with an iron rod or staff. The rod has a rounded disc at its end. It is powered by the ether of the world, focusing natural energy into fiery killing rays. The character takes peculiar route in seeking out the minor pyramid. He heads to the northeast, whereas the youth army had gone northwest, but later, due to the rough terrain, crosses the expand at great peril and takes up the northwest route. There are encounters along the way.


1. Indistinct but hostile Gray Man. Who is he?

2. Indistinct Silent Ones, who stand silent and attack only when disturbed.

3. A camp of sleeping, elephant-sized Giants and their horse-sized Hound.

4. Strange Doors that open suddenly in unexpected places, trying to swallow.

5. A giant Yellow Spider hiding under sand, creating a funnel to topple its prey.

6. The Evil Mountain, who will rally threats if it sees you. Why walk that way?


1. Hide in the brush and hope they don’t find you.

2. The ground gives way, you fall into the earth and the threats pass you by.

3. Time for battle, because it is too late to run.

After all of that, the main character stops to rest at a stream. He is chased by a Hound, hiding in the water, using the stream to cover his tracks as he attempts to avoid the great beast. He is forced to travel further west, passing very close to the House Of Silence that finished off the last of the Youth Army. Once he has cleared that vicinity, he turns north again.

Part 4

More travel, and then, more travel. The protagonist moves through barren lands, through lands dotted with with flaming plumes of gas, up slopes, down slopes, through a thick forest full of large dangers that are rarely described. During one upward climb, to a peak so he can look out at the landscape, he is chased by two proto-men with thick necks and shoulders. He manages to kill both, but it is a troublesome fight.

Later, the main character climbs up a large tree for sighting. A pack of proto-men comes to climb that very tree, all of them armed with large rocks. They are hunting a great, horned beast, with one proto-man leading the beast to where the others hide. When the beast comes in range, the wild men in the tree jump down on top of it. They try to kill the beast, and it kills off many of them, before the entire hunt moves elsewhere. And then, more travel, and more travel. Smaller dangers include snakes, spider-crabs and scorpions.

Through the psychic connection, the protagonist senses his lover is nearby, and she is. As it happens, the evil of those lands afflicted the people of the Minor Pyramid, so much that they threw open the doors to their refuge and ran outside, where the creatures and beasts swarmed over them. In many scattered directions they ran, with the evil beings chasing after them, and the lover, with her psychic sense, ran and traveled toward her distant lover.

Now that they are together, the protagonist takes time to care for his lover. Together, they begin the journey back to the Great Pyramid, but the pace is slower, and resources lessen because there are two of them now. Many creatures are out there looking for them, and for other humans who are still trying to evade the evil ones. Finding places to sleep is more difficult. At one point, other people fleeing are chased down by men with thick necks and shoulders, a second type of proto-men. The protagonist tries to save at least one, but cannot. Later, this another type of proto-man attacks his lover, two hairy men with four arms, the upper arms used to attack, and the lower with lesser strength used only to hold or pinch. The lover is injured slightly before he can kill the creatures. During their travel, the two are pursued by giant, smelly slugs, and other creatures not described, as well as snakes and scorpions.

In an odd twist, the lover becomes a liability. She demands excessive attention from the protagonist, wanting to be held and kissed, wanting even her toes kissed at times, despite how they are both exhausted and filthy. To be fair, the protagonist himself bestows great amounts of loving attention to her, but as this goes on, her cravings become obsessive, even demonic. At the start of this novel, we did see the lover playing games to test the main character, but now, when he does not tend to her whims, she will run off into the forest, forcing him to chase her down. He is greatly angered by her behavior, chastising her at first, becoming violent enough to whip her on the shoulders and arms with a stick, and yet, she still runs off, time and again.

This strange behavior reaches a crux when they reach the edge of a river. The protagonist builds a raft, but before they can start their way across, to reach an island and place of relative safety, the lover begins to act quirky again. This as a band of Humped Men arrive. The battle is fierce, with the main character giving and taking damage, as the threats attempt to take his lover away from him. She is suddenly light on her feet and runs off with several threats after her, while he stays to deal with the majority. The lover is armed with a knife, and when she returns, she will use the knife to stab the enemy and retreat, repeatedly, showing more energy and determination, strangely, than she has ever shown before.

Part 5

After the great skirmish, the lover manages to drag the protagonist onto the raft. It is she who navigates the raft through the river, stopping at an island. They rest on this island for a good number of days, until the protagonist gathers his health and does his best to repair his gear. This done, they travel downriver until it becomes necessary to leave the raft behind and continue on foot. The protagonist worries, as they are close to the giant black house.

Remember, if you will, Part 2, where the giant black house has eaten or destroyed the remnant army of youths. In this case, the protagonist decides to chance it, as traveling near to the black house is feasible and will cut the journey by several days. What the protagonist has not counted on is how the black house will affect his lover. The house affects the lover badly, putting her into a state near death. The protagonist is forced to carry his lover the rest of the way.

Every foe in the region comes out to stop him, in droves. The protagonist encounters foes he cannot even describe, and also large numbers of proto-men, hounds the size of horses, and great giants. Sometimes, the protagonist must fend with only one arm, as he carries his lover, or else he might put her down if they are too many. He passes the evil northern mountain, which has its eyes on him, but does not act against him.

The people of the Great Pyramid know he is coming. They send out a large number of armed soldiers, but the soldiers can only go so far before they come to a number of black hills. The hills are malevolent, seeking to destroy the soldiers, or to eat their souls. The soldiers can’t travel through the hills, but the protagonist and his burden must to reach safety. The psychic elders in the Great Pyramid give him mental support and guide him through as best they can. One last mob of giant hounds attacks the protagonist. The soldiers of the pyramid can reach most of them with long-ranged energy weapons, depleting their resources, and the protagonist must fight his way through the last of them.

Finally, the protagonist reaches the area of safety. There, it is discovered or realized that the lover has died. The protagonist is distraught for days, and also needs the time to recover from his wounds. In a sorry mental and physical state, he attends the lover’s burial. At this time, there is a great lamentation from his people, this sorrow and also admiration for his bravery, that it stirs up the energy of the Great Pyramid. The energy flows into the body of the lover, reviving her, and is seen as a miracle among all. The protagonist and lover are in each other’s arms, later married, and at the last a statue of he carrying she is erected, to commemorate his great endeavor.

Roaches In The Attic 2: Independence – sci fi novel now available

Recently re-released and reformatted. This novel is in the military science fiction genre. It is currently available for $5.99 at Smashwords.

About this series: For the first time in recorded history, humanity has developed the technology to travel among the stars. The unrestricted exploration of space begins, only for our first wave of pioneers to discover abruptly and brutally, that we are not alone in the cosmos. It will be up to the Space Marines not only to counter this new threat from far, far way, but also to prevent these bizarre new enemies, the Roaches, from finding Earth and bringing their unforgiving brand of destruction down on all of us.

Series page on Smashwords.

About this title: In order to reach the stars, Man must first cut the roots from beneath his feet. This will not be an easy task. The few who control the many relish their authority and power. The evolution of the human species from being Earth-bound to becoming Space-bound must undergo severe growing pains. Freedom comes at great cost. Threats will emerge from above and from below. Rating: MEDIUM controversy.

Title page on Smashwords.

An excerpt from Roaches In The Attic 2: Independence:

Date: Thursday, June 17, 2060

Location: Tempe, Arizona, United States

Nineteen year-old Shannon Reed hated manning the drive-thru register at Billy Bob’s Burger Joint. She always managed to get the absolute worst customers; the ones who started changing their order around while it was already being prepared, or who would deliberately give her an extremely complicated order. The ever-changing order scheme was done in the hopes that Shannon would screw it up somehow, so the conning customer could whine their way to a free meal from her supervisor. Shannon should have been at the front registers that day, like she was scheduled, except unreliable Tanya had called off yet again. As usual, the call-off came at the last possible moment. Shannon was trying to cover both spots at once, the front counter and the drive-thru. Her frantic supervisor was still busy calling up anybody she could think of, trying in vain to coerce someone else to come in and cover Tanya’s shift.

Shannon hated when men flirted with her, while she was busy working the drive-thru. Most of them were old or fat or ugly. She felt like a dartboard sometimes, finding their pick-up lines repulsive. The young black girl didn’t have a choice except to stand there and take their abuse.

Sometimes, however, Shannon did not mind being flirted with at all. Take the car that was idling just outside her cashier window right at that moment. It was a red convertible Roadster, obviously a rental. The four handsome young men who were sitting in it were all hunks, and most definitely her type.

At the moment, three of them were looking back at the fourth. That last guy was the biggest and brawniest of the bunch, but also the most indecisive.

“Will you hurry up and order?” The driver urged.

The guy in the back relented. “I’ll have a chicken sandwich, with a garden salad on the side. For a drink I want unsweetened iced tea.”

Before Shannon could ask what kind of dressing he preferred on the salad, the others began jeering him for his order.

“Bullshit, Bryan!” The driver scolded. “You’re always getting that health food crap! We made it all the way down here to fucking Tempe, and for once in your deprived life you’re going to live it up! So either you change your order or I’m changing it for you!”

“All right, all right, you win.” Bryan grinned. “I’ll take a Bonanza Burger with everything on it, super-size fries and a super-size vanilla shake.”

“That’s what I’m talking about!” The driver shifted forward in his seat. “Finally!”

“Bryan has to watch his figure.” The man in the shotgun seat mocked.

Shannon saw her opening. “I’d like to watch his figure.”

The guys in the car, being typical guys, started ooing at Bryan.

“Are you guys here for the baseball camp?” Shannon asked.

“That’s right.” The driver smiled. “We flew down from Salt Lake City, Utah, for the mid-season tryouts.”

Shannon keyed the last of the order into her terminal. “What team are you all with?”

“The Silver City Storm. We’re only Double A, but if we impress the right people we might get a chance at the Big Show. That’s the major leagues, baby!”

“You’re a pitcher, aren’t you?” Shannon asked, as she started getting the order together.

“How’d you know?”

“Oh, I can tell.” Shannon winked. The reason she knew was because pitchers were always talking too much. As she passed out the various paper bags and soft drinks, she held out a napkin with her scribbles on it. “Here’s my phone number. I want that outfielder in the back to have it.”

Another round of ooos ensued.

A few minutes later, the Roadster rolled out onto the open street. The driver directed the vehicle toward the EXOS training complex where they would be spending the rest of their day.

Bryan got his bag of food, but not before one of the others snatched out the napkin.

“Here name is Shannon. Are you going to call her?”

“Uh, I don’t know.”

“Well, have you ever had a black chick?” The driver asked.


“So now’s your chance, man!”

Bryan frowned.

“Your girl back home isn’t going to find out.” The driver added. “Not unless you screw it up and tell her.”

“I don’t know.” Bryan sighed. He was hoping he could make the major leagues so that he could land himself a nice juicy contract, and go on to marry his high school sweetheart. Besides that, however, something else was tugging at his head.

“Bryan, you cannot pass up a pair of tits like that!” Shotgun shook his head.

As much to change the subject as anything else, Bryan said, “I had that dream again.”

“What dream?” The driver asked.

“The dream about the aliens?” One of the others wondered.

“Yeah, about those roach-things we keep hearing about on the news.” Bryan nodded. “I dreamed they were here on Earth, and they were chasing people around and killing them and eating them. I dreamed that this guy gave me some kind of rifle. He was like an old soldier. I took the rifle and I started shooting like crazy with it. No matter how many of those aliens I shot, always, always, more of them kept coming.” He looked out the car window, his appetite now gone.

“Look, everybody has a bad dream sometimes.” The driver consoled him. “We’ve got the army out there fighting those things. They’re all way out in space, anyway. So don’t worry about it. Focus on that home run swing that got you here, otherwise you’re going to get depressed and you’re going to get yourself into a slump.”

“The last thing you want right now is a slump.” Shotgun agreed. “Especially when the scouts are going to be watching us like hawks.”

“You’ve got to show them you can hit big league pitching, Bryan.”


“Don’t fuck this up!” The driver persisted. “If we do good, we might make the September call-ups. We have to impress these people, Bryan!”

“Or if we get lucky, somebody on the major league roster will get hurt.” One of the other said. “We’re this close to making it, man! This close!”

Bryan stayed quiet, as he watched the landscape flash by outside. He couldn’t help but worry, and soon, very soon, he knew, he would have a very important decision to make. He could only hope that his girl back in Utah would understand what he was about to do, and why he was about to do it.

Bryan’s last name was Knotts.