A Good Stretch is All I Need

 

Finally getting back to writing, albeit at a slow pace, has got me to thinking about the collection that was the reason for creating my Patreon page.  “Mystics and Misfits” is a celebration of everything I love about the Science Fiction and Fantasy genre filtered through my experiences and feelings.  I became an artist because of the artwork from the books, movies, and TV shows.  I started writing because of all the great stories I read that touched my heart, made me laugh, cry, and rage.  Now I have a chance to show you guys what it means to me.

I just reopened the file that contains the collection and it stands at 58,173 words and my goal is 80,000 for the final book.  If “Lost Contact expands out as I think it will, I should be at that mark.  I will also be adding in my sffworld contest entry “A Word in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush” because I think it is a worthy story and will help get over the word goal.  From there is where I will need all of your help and support.  I want to get a real editor to go through the collection and make it as sharp and tight as a professional collection, but that will take money and encouragement.  Please consider helping anyway you can.

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Well Hello There

Nice to see so many people checking into my blog tonight so I decided to give you a treat especially since I just crossed the 1,000 word mark in “Lost Contact”.  I am enjoying my new phone making all this noise with alert after alert.  So here you go:

 

Lost Contact

by

Robert Garbin

(A Work in Progress)

He couldn’t breathe!  The suit should be providing enough oxygen but it just wasn’t making a difference.  Emergency alarms were buzzing in his ears along with a synthetic voice trying to calm him down, which coupled with his panic made things worse.  He tried clawing at his helmet; unfortunately, fingers softened by thick suit gloves were useless this way.

Air … open, unrestricted breathing had to happen now!  Wheezing frantically, Jack desperately tried to collect his thoughts to operate the release on his helmet’s seal ring.  His hands fumbled uselessly.  Blazing anger and sickening fear slammed like waves on the shores of his mind, clouding all rationality as he began to hammer his head on the rocky ground.  The first few hits almost jarred him enough to stop but the effect did not last.  He started again, harder and harder until a jagged crack formed in his faceplate and with one more powerful blow the glass shattered.  Carson immediately breathed deeply only to chock as a strong dose of sulfur dioxide entered his mouth.  Retching horribly he fell to the ground, finally out of strength, his eyes bulging and throat closing from the abuse.  His motions became nothing more than tremors as he began to lose consciousness.   On the edge of death a voice entered his mind, somehow familiar.

 

Two Weeks Earlier   

Jack Carson passed Tom Watson’s office heading for the company locker room after a long day of babysitting a rich politician making campaign rounds.  Jack worked for Terra Novae Security Inc., which was a polite way of saying mercenary force – soldiers for hire.  Almost past the door, Tom called him into the office.  Jack’s ever present voice of doubt and fear whispered from the deep pool of his damned up personality; his stomach gave him a jolt of acid.

Tom Watson was a bear of a man.  Six foot four out of fatigue boots with shoulders as wide as a normal man’s leg length and not an ounce of fat on his body.  Of course, the build made him look silly in his business suite.  His hair was a close cut dirty blonde just starting to grey at the temples.  Watson leaned back in his chair as Jack came in, putting his hands behind his head.

“How was the Haverson gig,” asked his boss?

“Boring,” Jack replied quickly.  “The man is so low on the food chain no one cares enough to even remember his name.  Why he feels he needs a body guard is beyond me but as long as he is paying the bills I got no problem.  At least the food is good.”

“Yeah, Haverson is a real paranoid.  My guess is he has some skeleton in his attic with some muscle still on it.  Well he was pleased with your work anyway.”

“Wow, I never expected him to mention me,” Jack replied, genuinely surprised.

“He did and that is why I am going to offer you a lucrative long term assignment,” Watson said as he motioned Jack to sit.

Jack sat in the hard wooden chair that was the only seat available other than Tom’s comfortable but well-worn desk chair.  Tom’s desk was neat and well maintained but like his chair old and traveled.  Jack had herd from some of the original members that the desk was a relic of Tom’s military career with the Antioch Marine Corps of Galina colony.  Tom had a falling out with a political backer there and chose not to reenlist when his tour was over.  Shortly thereafter he founded Terra Novae Security, Inc. with several of his command staff.

“Okay, what’s the gig?”

“I have a long time client putting together an off-world expedition who has lost a security expert on short notice and asked me if I could fill the void by tomorrow.  They are paying top dollar and a completion bonus of ten percent” Tom said.

Jack hesitated for a minute as the whisper in the pool turned into wails.   In his two years with the company he had never been asked to do off-world work, which was to his liking since he was more of a homebody.  However, the money sounded good with his debt being heavy from finally buying a house that was maybe a little more than he ought to have purchased.

“What’s the pay?”

“3500 credits a day plus food and board for the duration of the expedition plus the 10% per day bonus upon completion of the project.  Let me tell Jack, this is a sweet deal.  Have you ever been on an expedition before?”

“No, I have been content with planetary security,” Jack replied, sweat trickling down his neck under his shirt.

“Then you have been missing out.  The egg heads that you will be riding herd over are spoiled teachers and scientists with all the pretentiousness of movie stars.  They get catered meals to keep them happy and productive for the corporations funding the research and the company behind this mission spares no expense on their people.”

“So what happened with their other expert?”

“I think they said some kind of personal business came up, lucky for you though.  Think about it; spend a week or two on some exotic planet getting catered meals three times a day just to watch the backs of some brainy scientists.  Oh, hey, did I mention that the planet has no known predators, just plants as far as the eye can see.”

Jack was wary of this deal but he was desperate for a big paycheck.  Also, considering he passed up almost off world work for so long, he was afraid to turn down a gig the boss recommended him; his future employment might be at stake.

“Can I think it over,” Jack stalled for time.

“Unfortunately, this space need filled today because the expedition leaves in a week.  Are you in or out Jack?  If not, I got to see who else wants this sweet deal.”

Butterflies started dancing the rumba in his stomach as his cheeks became flushed.  Tom’s words made it sound like no sweat off his back if Jack said no, but his tone said he had better step up or find himself with much less work in the future.  Damn! He was comfortable doing what he did.  The money wasn’t great but the responsibility level was just what he could handle.   Jack wondered how he could have let himself get so in debt.

Director On Set

Tonight I am actually in good enough shape to get some writing in and “Two Steps From Hell” station is running on Pandora for the grand soundtrack type music.  As I have mentioned before, I don’t just write, I paint with words.  In actuality, I direct my stories like a movie.  That includes the visual arts of designing the props and building the sets.  It also includes choreographing the scene and actions of the characters, which includes the pacing of their dialogue, body language, and emotions.  I doubt it will ever happen, but someone making a movie out of my stories should be able to set up the scene easily if I have done my job well.  Okay, time to direct some more.

Gone but Not Forgotten

It isn’t much, but I managed to write two paragraphs in the horror story I mentioned several posts back.  The title I am going with is “Lost Contact”.  The story revolves around a Mercenary in over his head playing body guard to a bunch of scientists on an expedition to a verdant planet.  Stay Tuned.

My 2017 Reading List

Here is the final round-up of the books I have read this year.   I think I may have missed a few and my reading habit of late is next to nothing or else I would have more to report.  Luckily, many do have reviews on my Librarything page.

 

The Iron Tactician                               Alastair Reynolds                               Free Arc

Caliban’s War                                     James S. A. Corey                               New

Shadows of Self                                 Brandon Sanderson                            New

Nemesis                                               Louise Cooper                                     New

Dragon’s Bane                                    Barbara Hambley                                Reread

Dragon’s Shadow                               Barbara Hambley                                Reread

Knight of the Demon Queen              Barbara Hambley                                Reread

Dragon Star                                         Barbara Hambley                                Reread

The Bands of Mourning                      Brandon Sanderson                            New

Abaddon’s Gate                                 James S. A. Corey                               New

At the Speed of Light                         Simon Morden                                    Free Arc

The Immortals War                             Leah Cutter                                         Free Arc

The Way of Kings                               Brandon Sanderson                            Free E-book from Tor.com

2 DEE                                                 Robin Wyatt Dunn                             Free Arc

Cibola Burn                                         James S. A. Corey                               New

Haunted Futures                                 Salome Jones                                       Free Arc

Compostela (Tesseracts 20)                Spider Robinson                                 Free Arc

The Heart of What Was Lost              Tad Williams                                       New

As You Wish                                      Carry Elwes                                        New

The Bone Hunters                               Steven Erikson                                    New

Bad Rock Beat Down                                    Michael Prelee                         Free Arc

Tooth and Talon                                  Alex Hernandez                                  Free Arc-Current Read

Positivity From an Unexpected Source (from my Patreon page)

Most of my adult life I have been considered to be a negative person.  If you look at a lot of my earlier posts you may find it easy to go along with this point of view; even I have believed it.  However, if you take time to read enough of the short stories I have posted on my Patreon page, you will find a surprising reality.  Many of my stories have up beat endings.

Some spoilers ahead, “Dragon Dreams”, while full of battle and strife, is essentially a dream come true for Jason Conners.  He becomes a creature that can turn his creativity into a reality through dreams.  What writer/artist would not love that.  The story “Cast the First Stone” deals with the end of Nazi Germany in a very brutal and graphic way with the death of Hitler, yet it holds out hope for us all with the potential for redemption.

My artwork almost always focuses of the beauty of life.  “Quiet Strength – Silent Vulnerability” deals with the potential man has to destroy the majestic tiger.  However, the image is very beautiful and vibrant and the symbolism used expresses my love for space, the stars, the planets, and big cats.  “Rodeo” deals with suicide and Hell, but the story that accompanies this painting ultimately is about hope and salvation.  So while even I sometimes believe that I am a negative person, my stories and artwork paint a different picture.

Shield Time

As part of my new job I am now spending a significant amount of time driving or as it is referred to in the business “Shield Time”.  My day consists of up to three hours of driving alone each day.  That is why I upgraded my phone to strait talk wireless from AT&T so I could have unlimited data and more ram for music and pod casts.  One of the best perks is that I can now run Pandora on my drives.  Tonight I switched back to one of my go to stations for epic movie score style instrumental music “Two Steps from Hell”.  Two Steps from Hell is a band that creates driving tracks that would fit well into a lot of epic movies and the tracks that are pulled into this station include soundtracks to video games (Assassin’s Creed, Skyrim, Mass Effect) and movies/television (Game of Thrones).

One track this evening created a set of images and a story I want to share to show how powerful this music is and what you could be reading if you joined my patreon account.

 

Rebirth

by Robert Garbin

 

Intense heat radiated from the earth causing shimmering waves of air and gouts of escaping steam from underground water sources.  Quakes shook dust and loose gravel into the sky in large quantities.  Animals ran recklessly from place to place searching for some safe haven to little avail.  The entire planet was involved.

A small striped lizard stopped  nervously upon a hot rock, switching from one clawed pair of feet to the other in an attempt to avoid burning up.  A massive quake dislodged the tiny reptile from his perch.  Before it could recover, a large crack opened in the ground swallowing the terrified creature, which was then shot miles into the air by intense updrafts of burning air, smoke, and debris.  Walls of disintegrated earth rose for miles in all directions.

From space, the once lush planet turned into a ball of ash and soot with spikes reaching out past the upper atmosphere.  It expanded rapidly from the size of a small inner planet to that of the behemoth gas giants circling the star from the depths of the system.  With a final convulsion, the surface of the planet disintegrated, blown away from the hot core of fire at its center.  The flaming core pulsed as if it was alive.

Slowly the flames expanded like wings unfurling, a head appeared, while long tendrils dropped from the bottom.  With a silent roar at the universe the Phoenix awoke from its billion year rebirth and stretched flaming wings across the solar system before launching out into the gaps between stars.  Speeding away, the Phoenix left behind a trail of debris that was beginning to spread itself in a disc around the parent star.