Banan clamped her hands over her mouth to forcibly hold her silence lest she draw the Americans to them with her screams. She re-steadied herself back to her feet and turned to Sammie. Sammie hoarsely mouthed to her “are you ok?”
Banan nodded lightly. She removed her hands from her mouth and surveyed the room. A scream rose in her throat at the shear carnage which surrounded them. Up close, it felt infinitely more real than it did from the ceiling above. Sammie could see the scream rising in Banan’s throat and so she leapt out from her hiding spot and clamped her hands around Banan’s mouth. She whispered in Banan’s ear “Shhhh…. If you scream, the Americans will kill us both.” Banan swallowed down her terror and Sammie released her grip. Sammie frowned as she surveyed the carnage. Dozens of dead bodies, lay piled about the room but Sammie could not see Megan readily. Sammie said “We have to find them. I’m sure you’re worried about Scarlet, Steve, and Jerry. It looks like a lot of people from the dance floor tried hiding in here. There may still be hope. Maybe one of them played dead to trick the Americans and is hiding underneath the bodies.”
Silently, they both began the grisly task of sifting through the bodies. Sammie recognized several people from the bar as well as some of some of ‘Snow White’s’ dwarves. She heard Banan whisper sadly “Scarlett.” Sammie turned to look. Banan held on to Scarlett’s arm as it protruded out from underneath the dead body of the bartender. Banan grabbed hold of Scarlett’s wrist for a second and then turned to Sammie and shook her head sadly. Sammie nodded and said “We’ll keep looking.”
As they dug through, a slight coughing sound came from the back. Sammie sprinted to it and pulled away some bodies revealing Steve. He grimaced and coughed up some blood as he labored to breath. Sammie knelt down saying “Steve, Steve…” He looked up into her eyes and gasped. He said “They …” A fit of coughs stopped him. Sammie looked down across his body. Large punctures pierced almost every part of him. Banan ran up alongside her and knelt next to him as well. Sammie surveyed the room for something, anything they could use to plug his wounds even though a part of her knew it was already too late for that. The spreading puddle of blood flowing from behind Steve told her that the exit wounds were much larger than the small punctures that covered his front. Steve hoarsely whispered “They took…” Sammie knelt close and asked “Took who?” Steve drew in a deep breath. The blood gurgling from his chest bubbled as he said “Took… Megan…” Banan asked “You mean they killed her?” Steve shook his head. His head slumped for a while and he closed his eyes. Sammie almost began to stand back up when he said “No… they drag Megan away… then kill everyone. They take her… on purpose.”
Sammie’s blood froze in her veins. She asked “Why?” Steve shuddered and looked up at her. He grasped her arm and replied, as if giving some dire warning, “Bistro!” With that said, his grip released. His eyes rolled back in his head and he slumped over silently. The pool of blood spreading from beneath him began to cool as the last whispers of life escaped his body. Both women stood there, blood-soaked and shivering in shock and terror. Sammie’s mind felt as though it moved through water as the world around her spun slowly. It seemed as if everything began to tunnel in on Steve’s lifeless face. Scarcely a few minutes prior, he had been the first guy to buy her a drink at a bar and now he was dead. Megan was the first woman to show Sammie any form of kindness, well somewhat kindness in a drunken-party sense of the word, and now she had been kidnapped by Americans. All of the conflicting emotions boiled back and forth within Sammie but none over whelmed the burning question which exploded in her mind above all the rest…
“Why did the American’s take Megan alive?”
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Buck Sergeant O'Malley has seen a lot of war: more than anyone in First Platoon, Boy Company realizes. Because O'Malley is 6,000 years old and, using various names and disguises, has been there from Thermopylae to the trenches of World War I, trying to protect the men going into combat, trying to save women and children, trying to push back the darkness that descends each time men takes up arms against men. And now his squad has been ordered "over the top" to face enemy machinegun fire. Will this be the end of O'Malley's very long life?
Lightning ripped across the northern California sky, then splintered down through the rain and disappeared behind our neighbor’s house. Letting the door slam shut behind me, I ran away from the warmth of our porch light into the darkness of our backyard. My mom would’ve killed me if she’d caught me outside that late at night. Especially in a thunderstorm, and on the night before my fifteenth birthday, with the big party she had planned for tomorrow. But I had to get out of the house before I fell asleep and they came for me. And they were coming!
A gust of wind blew my hair against my face. I swiped it out of my eyes just in time to see a plastic lawn chair tumbling through the air. I covered my head with both arms, but a leg of the chair smashed against my elbow. Ouch!
I dropped onto the wet grass, pulled my knees into my chest, and rocked nervously back and forth. Water soaked up through my nightgown and my underwear, making me shiver.
None of these things mattered, though. Because something far worse was happening inside my head. A memory of me as a little girl, on the night my grandpa Dahlen disappeared from his cottage, was trying to claw its way into my consciousness. And I didn’t want to think about that night. Ever.
Still, I couldn’t stop it, which didn’t make sense. I was awake, and outside, where I was supposed to be safe, yet the aliens from my dreams were somehow messing with my thoughts, rearranging things, trying to make me think about that night! But how?
And why? It happened eight years ago, and my grandpa was dead now.
Although, before he disappeared, he’d—
No! Stop, Courtney! I yelled at myself.
I bit my fingernail and took a deep breath, hoping to calm down.
No luck. I was remembering the musty old-books smell from my grandpa’s bookcase. Butterflies rushed into my stomach and I sprang to my feet.
“All right. Is that what you want me to do?” I shouted into the rainy darkness. “Remember my grandpa? What happened that night? If I do that, then will you leave me alone?”
I wiped the rain from my eyes, and suddenly it was like I was right there, in the cottage. His notebook sat on the plaid couch, opened to a map he’d drawn of the ancient wormholes linking the alien world to our own.
I stumbled backward over a tree root and my butt hit the ground; my head clunked against an even bigger root. Oww! I started to sit up. But suddenly the memory I’d been running from took over the screen in my mind. I fell back into the wet grass and watched the scene unfold as if I were seven years old again, right there in the cottage.
It was raining outside, and the air smelled like old, musty books and burnt hamburgers. I glanced over at my grandpa Dahlen. He was busy in the kitchen, forking ears of corn out of a pot of boiling water. Standing tiptoe on the comfy reading chair, I reached up to the bookcase and ran my fingers along the dials of what he called his ham-radio/alien-transport machine.
“Courtney!” Grandpa stared at me over his steamed-up glasses.
“Fine.” I plopped down on the reading chair and crossed my arms over my chest. Then I lowered my eyes. Blood was seeping through my shirt again from earlier in the day, when my grandpa’s nun friend had stopped by with a guy with a tattoo gun. They’d come to give me a tattoo. I hadn’t wanted a tattoo! But my grandpa had told me it was important, and the way he’d said it, I’d believed him. So now I had a blue mark on my rib cage that looked like four dead bugs arranged in a square.
“So tell me this, Grandpa,” I said. “If these aliens who visit you are really your friends, then why do they make you keep everything secret?”
He turned away from the steaming pot and eyed me with suspicion. “Because people are frightened of what they don’t understand. And frightened people can be dangerous, Courtney,” he said. “Now come sit down for dinner.”
I slipped into a wobbly kitchen chair, rested my elbows on the wooden table, and stared down at my burnt ham- burger. “Mom doesn’t believe in aliens, so does that make her dangerous?” I asked.
Grandpa chuckled. “Your mother is only interested in facts and evidence. Even when she was a child, she had no tolerance for intangibles. Or even comic books, for that matter. Can you imagine?” He set a plate of corn on the cob in the center of the table, then sat down across from me. “But dangerous? No. I think we’re safe from her.” He flashed me a wink.
I winked back. People always told me that I shared his silvery-blue eyes. Hearing someone say it would make my mom cringe, though, because she thought Grandpa was crazy. And the last thing she wanted was for me to turn out like him. But she and my dad were spending the weekend with their old law school friends on Lake Tahoe, so they’d dropped me off with Grandpa on their way.
“Well, if these alien things are real living creatures, then did God make them?” I asked. “Or are they just imaginary?”
I smiled proudly. I was about to finally get the truth from him.
“How’s your burger?” he asked.
“But you didn’t answer—”I started to protest, when a bang on the front door made me jump.
My grandpa ran over and covered his ham-radio/alien-transport machine with an afghan.
More quick pounding! Grandpa shoved his notebook under the couch.
I tried to read his expression, to see if he was frightened or just cleaning up, but he wouldn’t look at me. He rushed to the door and glanced through the peephole, and I held my breath.
When he unlocked the door, three men barged into the cottage.
I immediately recognized them as professor friends of my grandpa’s from when he’d taught at Berkeley. But what were they doing out here at night? I mean, hadn’t they heard of cellphones?
They stared over at me. “Hello, Courtney,” said one, a tall man with a thick beard and black suitcoat.
I shot my grandpa a pleading look, like Make them go away. But he quickly shook his head. I stomped into the guest bedroom and slammed the door.
“They’re coming,” one of the men whispered, loud enough for me to hear. He sounded worried. Which made me worry. About what, though, I wasn’t quite sure.
I bit my thumbnail, and it tasted like wormy dirt from the woodpile. Gross! I wiped my mouth with the bottom of my shirt.
“She’s not safe,” another man said.
Not safe? I froze. “She”? As in me? My heart started racing, and suddenly I couldn’t get enough air into my lungs.
I grabbed the black metal latch of the window next to me and opened it. The chirr-chirr of crickets filled the bedroom, and I breathed in the smell of wet leaves. Pressing my face against the screen, I glanced up at my grandpa’s ham radio tower, standing tall along the side of the house. The siren on top of it glistened with rain under the silvery moon. It would sound off if any bad guys snuck into the backyard and tried to mess with my grandpa’s things. Or that’s what he’d told me, anyway.
Suddenly a familiar shiver trickled down my neck. Oh wow!
I turned away from the window and locked eyes with Astra. “Nice of you to show up,” I said.
She was a few years older than me. Like eleven, maybe. She was sitting cross-legged on the floor next to the closet; her eyes shone bright green against her pale skin and black hair. She bit into her plump bottom lip, which meant she was worried about me. “You think I’m going to climb out the window and run away?” I asked her.
She didn’t answer. For an imaginary friend, she wasn’t very talkative. But she seemed to show up whenever I was in trouble. And there was no getting rid of her; our minds were connected. My grandpa said she was probably a real person somewhere, and that we shared consciousness because we came from the same bloodline. As crazy as the idea seemed, I liked to think that there might be someone real out there who would understand me if we ever crossed paths. Most people just thought I was weird like my grandpa.
“I’m glad you’re here,” I told Astra.
Outside my door, I could hear the men pacing around on the creaky wooden floor boards.
“When?” my grandpa asked.
“We don’t know,” another man said.
I didn’t like the sound of that. My stomach tightened with nerves. I sat down on my bed and rocked back and forth, staring at Astra.
“You’re crying,” she said. Or I could hear her voice in my head, anyway.
“No I’m not.” I swiped my cheek. Then I looked down at the spot of blood on my shirt. “I got a tattoo,” I said, trying to change the subject.
A siren wailed outside. The alarm! I jumped up, turned toward the window. But the bedroom door burst open behind me. I spun back around, and my grandpa stood in the doorway.
“Grandpa! What’s happening?” I started toward him. He quickly shook his head and then pressed his finger to his lips: Stay quiet.
Grandpa looked scared. And he was never scared. My heart pounded against my rib cage. Astra was gone. This was bad.
Bright light lit up my grandpa’s face. It was coming through the window behind me. Oh no! I whipped around to see who was there, and someone grabbed me from inside the room.
I started to scream, but a hand covered my mouth. My feet lifted off the floor. Frantically I twisted my head around to see who it was, but I was being dragged backward, down the hall, into the bathroom. Kicking at the bathroom wall, I bit into the hand covering my mouth, and for a second my head was free. I whirled around to see my grandpa, his finger gushing blood from where my teeth had cut into his skin.
“Grandpa? What are you doing?”
He whispered something in my ear. Then he lifted me up, ignoring my flailing legs.
The next thing I knew, I was underwater. Screaming!
Aria Vanir, psychic tween girl from Virginia Beach, trusts only her mother with the knowledge of her predictions and remote viewings. When Aria connects with technically and spiritually advanced aliens—the Gallions—she instead confides in her best friend, Tommy Manger. His unexpected anger and betrayal threatens to end their friendship.
Nashata, Queen Supreme of the Gallions, leads a diplomatic mission with her royal family to Earth so she can test Aria for potential first contact. The queen trusts only this “youngirl” with the secrets of her people.
When the Gallions beam Aria, Tommy, and Aria’s tomboyish teen sister, Jackie, aboard their spaceship, Aria’s typically passive mother makes a daring move to save her daughters. None of them realize that the military has sent Aria’s Navy SEAL father, William, on a mission to capture the good aliens or destroy their spaceship. Worse, William has no idea that he’s putting his daughters and their friend in harm’s way.
Can Aria succeed in her quest to meet the alien queen in person, despite the fears and disbeliefs of those closest to her?
Through stunning images, including 75 illustrations created exclusively for this book, 25 remarkable and memorable technologies from the world of sci-fi are explored.
With expertly written text by NASA insider Rod Pyle, each concept is explained and dissected to reveal the real science behind it. Some are temptingly within our reach—such as cyborgs and artificial intelligence—others are further off, but fast approaching reality (think bio-ports or cloaking devices). All are fascinating and make wonderful explorations into the science of the future as we understand it today.
“Who’s there?” Carl muttered, his eyes slowly opening to narrow slits. The squeal in his head subsided, as did the song. The sound was replaced by distant howling that hung in the cool air the same way that his breath rolled out from his lips.
The mattress felt stiffer than a slab of concrete. With a grunt, Carl tried to roll to his side. Every muscle in his body lit ablaze with a fire that grew hotter, no matter how he positioned himself. Every joint swelled, making it impossible to form even a loose fist. He gave up and flopped flat on his back.
Carl looked up to the ceiling; in the center of the stained canopy, a drop of water clung to a dark patch of mold, clawing its way towards the corner. The damp scent of rot caught in his nose, causing him to cough, sending sharp pains through his abdomen. When the coughing stopped, he wanted to clutch at his sides, but it was easier to stay still.
Carl tilted his head. His eyes trailed towards the room’s barred entrance, which was framed with crumbling plaster. Pieces of stucco remained on the concrete floor, reminding Carl of his vision during lunch at Informacorp. He let out a sigh, watching his breath condense in the cold air, slowly floating away and dissipating into obscurity.
He tried to move his leaden arm, but the weight was too difficult to overcome. When is this going to stop? he wondered. He had no desire to stay in this ugly world with its bland gray palette. All of it so real. Carl wondered if he was crazy, if he would ever be able to escape this delusion. If I am crazy, he wondered, would I be able to recognize it? The idea sent his mind reeling, unable to discern an answer that didn’t lead back to the beginning of a cruel paradox. A stabbing sensation in his intestines abruptly took him away from his internalized argument. There was no question about the reality of pain. That much was certain.
Eventually, the agony in his belly dulled, giving Carl a chance to scan the room for clues. He wasn’t sure what to look for. Or even what questions needed to be answered. Those questions, he decided, were too numerous to sort out. Some hint, any hint about his location would suffice for the time being. But from within the gray confine, there were no indicators as to his whereabouts. Carl closed his eyes and continued to lay still.
In the future, the only solution to mass overcrowding and dwindling resources is the lottery. A game where people are paid to play but, if they win, they legally become food. Two such lottery-winners, a suicidal teenager named Sammie and an impoverished middle-aged woman named Kim, find themselves 'purchased' by the upscale Bistro Viande which is run by celebrity Chef Nick Delano and his jaded sous-chef, Anne. In the few remaining days of their lives, Kim decides to make the best of her life in enjoying what few pleasures remain for her, while Sammie decides to make the best of her death in ensuring she is at her tastiest. Little does anyone else know, however, that Sammie hides a dark secret, one that could both save her life and destroy the Bistro.
Anne stalked in and shouted “What the hell are you doing!?” Sammie and Kim looked at each other. Sammie stammered and Kim said “What do you mean? We just did as you told us. We weren’t trying to escape or anything like that. Just sitting here.” Anne pointed at them and said “You took that shower and then put your grungy, dirty clothing back on!?”
Sammie nodded quietly “Yes ma’am.” Kim squinted at first, but then smiled. Kim said “Wait, you’re so pissed, that you’re going to send us back into that hot shower.” Kim chuckled and said “We should piss you off more often.”
Anne stared at her coldly and replied “It’s not cheap!” Sammie pulled off her shirt and said “…or legal.” Anne shot her a look and Sammie held up a hand “Not that I’m complaining at all. We really enjoy and appreciate it.” Anne smiled wryly “It’s a perk of being food. The law says using hot water to wash a person is an illegally wasteful practice.” Anne cocked her head to the side lightly and continued “But… you aren’t people anymore and the use of hot water in cleansing of food in its preparation is legally allowed.” Sammie’s jaw dropped “That’s freaking genius!” Kim started to unbutton her pants and said “But, you’re not allowed in, Anne, are you?” Anne shrugged “The only time I’m ever in there is when I’m force-shaving a runner chained to the wall. Trust me, I’m not enjoying the water during those times.”
Sammie said “But, you never, you know… when no one is looking, or maybe between shipments ever want to hop inside this thing and get an actual, nice shower as opposed to those two-minute ice-bucket pieces of crap we’re allowed to have?” Anne shook her head “Never.” Sammie cocked her head to the side and said “Really? I mean, aren’t you even tempted.” Anne replied darkly “It’s an instrument for cleaning food. All the women who shower in there, they die.”
Kim pursed her lips and asked “Is it because of too many bad memories?” Anne’s gaze softened, but only for a second. She shook her head and it was gone “Just rinse off and get ready.”
They both disappeared in while Anne waited outside. In a few minutes, giggles and splashing could be heard coming from the shower. Anne shouted “Hurry up!” Sammie called back, laughing, “I suddenly feel like running, Anne. Maybe you should take off your clothes and come in here to hold me down. Why don’t you bring a bar of soap in for yourself while you’re at it?”
Anne threw a hand to her mouth to stifle the laughter that yearned to raise from her mouth. She clenched her jaw tight and squinted her eyes hard. She whispered to herself “They’re food, not friends. Food, not friends.” She leaned her head back against the wall and whispered to herself “Come on, Anne. Don’t make the Mary Jenson mistake again.”
Anne closed her eyes and remembered Mary. Over Mary’s short stay at Bistro Viande, her and Anne had grown incredibly close. She had a hard time remembering, between Mary and herself, who cried harder when she eventually loaded Mary into the oven. But, the end result lay seared in Anne’s mind…
Anne had to live on knowing herself to be Mary’s killer.
Anne took a deep breath to force the growing emotions away. Anne whispered “Die inside. Live outside.” She closed her eyes and pictured herself dead until the waves of memories and emotions passed. She reopened her eyes once more…
She remembered who she was. A consummate professional fully capable of a job that required her to kill two people per week.
Her face returned to its normal cold stare.
Space Resources, Inc. (SRI) mines asteroids for the riches a populated Earth needs without degrading the planet. Yet there are those opposed to progress in whatever its form such as the Gaia Alliance, a front group for eco-terrorists. During a violent attack on the Moon, the terrorists steal an exploration ship, arm it, and rename it the Rock Killer. Charlene "Charlie" Jones of SRI security is trying to infiltrate the Gaia Alliance's cabal to find evidence linking them to the murder of her fiancé. But a run-in with the law threatens to reveal her identity to the dangerous men of the Alliance. Simultaneously, SRI Director Alexander Chun is traveling to the asteroid belt to bring a kilometer-long nickel-iron rock back to Earth orbit to mine for its valuable metals. Following him and his multi-national team is the Rock Killer. Without armaments, millions of miles from help, Chun must stop those who threaten him and the lives of his crew.
The Last Flight of the Phoenix is the sequel to the Novel - The Warrior's Stone. In the first book the T.S.S. Phoenix is lost behind enemy lines. In this new novel we discover what became ofthe Phoenix and its crew, while Roy and Katreena face a new evil that threatens their world.
The war was over except for the crew of the T.S.S. Phoenix. Lost deep in enemy space, crippled, but not dead. The odds of survival were stacked against them, but they were still determined to fight their way back towards allied space.
On New Terra, Roy O’Hara had discovered peace for his spirit and joy in a simple life. Yet he had only fulfilled a portion of the Commander’s Prophecy. It told of a darkness that would fall on his new home from the stars and he would be called upon once again to save them all.
The Alliance turned a blind eye to the sudden growth of the Sa’larie Empire just beyond their borders, but some in the intelligent community could see the clues of a new threat. A covert team is sent to discover the truth of the alien’s goals and they discover much more than they could have ever imagined.
Different paths of unlikely allies and new foes will intersect in the skies and on the ground of New Terra once again, where everything will change and destinies will collide.
The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of . . .
When private detective Rick Bailey is hired by the exotically beautiful and outrageously wealthy Princess Nora, he thinks it'll be easy money. Escaping from her rebellion-torn kingdom, the princess has lost her handmaiden, Lores: the only person who knows how to find the hidden royal jewels.
But when his search for the equally lovely Lores turns deadly, Bailey realizes that there is more to this case than it first seemed. When someone tries to kill him, he discovers that the roots of evil run deep.
With his own set of values and sense of honor, Bailey must keep one step ahead of murderous mobsters, secret government operatives, and a genetically enhanced Lores as he races across the galaxy in search of the truth. The only things he knows he can trust are his eight-foot-tall ladybug-like girl Friday and a powerful weapon that responds to his thoughts.
Will Bailey find the treasure of the black hole in time and will he survive long enough to discover why it is something worth killing for?
I feel sort of blessed, on being able to write this story. I(t) created a side-universe with a complex trail that embraces immense distances, immense populations, and severe implications, including three known species, and the humanoids plight to remain existing. There is a cadre of main characters among humans and another among the Ohnis, the main alien opposition to humans. Both cadres are endowed with values and cultures that clash and have to coexist.
A thousand year peace between the Solards and Ohnis has been broken by an outbreak of inter-solar war. The Solards are a new Ice-Age Earth meritocracy with equality for all its citizens who follow a self-imposed strict code of conduct. The Ohnis are humanoid and an ancient autocracy with deep differences and separation between inheritance-nobles and slaves. In this far distant future, Humans adore beautiful fit bodies and need mandatory interactions to live longer. The alien Ohnis have a tail for pleasuring and with it can multiply satisfaction many folds. Drawn by mutual needs, the two cultures interact often.
That interaction is under threat because of fighting for terraforming resources. The two cultures are now at war, pushed there by secret government entities, and corporate interests on both sides.
A long waited Redeemer has appeared among the Ohnis, a gladiator, who against his own aspirations will fall prisoner to fate, faith and politics. Simultaneously, a special Solard has developed insurmountable amounts of knowledge at such a pace that it will change the future prospects of both Humanity and the Ohnis.
The survival of each of their civilizations intertwines in intricate nuances of drama, crisis, sacrifice and bravery.
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Tastes Like Murder (Cookies & Chance Mystery #1) by Catherine Bruns Narrator: Karen Rose Ritcher Series: Cookies & Chance Mystery #1 Published by Gemma Halliday