The Robin Hood of Couches is out and only 99 cents until 8/25/19.
The Robin Hood of Couches is out and only 99 cents until 8/25/19.
Today is your last chance to get the special Patreon members only edition of The Robin Hood of Couches! Thank you so much to all the folks who’ve already donated. Your support means a lot to me. You can secure your copy here on Patreon. If you want to skip all this Patreon stuff, you can preorder on Amazon here.
Thank you to everyone whose supported me already. Here is a sneak peak at the second chapter:
The Academy never prepared Reese for the smell of a body. It was a putrid, foul odor that was worse than the time he had found week-old leftovers from a steakhouse underneath the seat of his car. Since he hadn’t known what was inside the foil, he had unwrapped it and puked. The body of the man today festered in a drainage pool. The victim’s beard was matted and infested with bugs. According to the display hovering in the air in front of him, the DNA match was for Derrick Yusuf, a delivery handler for MotoCom. According to his supervisors, the man took a week off without giving a reason why before he died.
The local detective walked right into the display. Typically, it was rude to step into other people’s screens, but Reese had set it to private so no one could see what he was seeing. The cop poked at Reese and said, “Do you need to puke?”
“No, I’m fine.” Reese’s stomach had come a long way since the tinfoil surprise, but that didn’t stop the smell from making him lose his appetite for the rest of the day. Which was unfortunate because for lunch later on, his girlfriend treated him to this new Russian place with the best perogies in the city, and he didn’t eat a bite, claiming illness rather than recounting the memory of the smell with her.
“I’m surprised. All you corporate types puke your first time on the scene,” the detective said.
“Most of my colleagues are here to expose fraud and get big paychecks when they find the CFO skimming off the top. I’m here to find the truth,” Reese said.
“What? You didn’t get into Corporate Investigations for the finder’s fees and the big payday? If you want to make a difference in the world, you should come to collect the city paycheck with us.”
“Then I wouldn’t have access to the best equipment, and I couldn’t afford those subscriptions on a cop’s salary.”
“It’s the equipment, he says. Yeah, yeah, you’ll be driving your Maserati at the track on weekends. We appreciate the funding CI gives us but try to remember this is a crime scene. That body’s a real person, and don’t touch anything.” The cop walked out of the screen view, and Derrick’s information came back up. His crawler was now downloading social media info. Mr. Yusuf apparently liked to cure his own meats and made his own cheeses. It was an esoteric hobby when everyone’s entire house was a giant 3D printer these days.
The truth of the situation was that Reese enjoyed the tech available to even the lowest-level investigator, but it wasn’t the real reason he decided to attend the CI Academy, a school that only admits .07% of the applicants every year. He suffered through the sleepless nights of study, grueling physical activity, and endless skills training because he really wanted to make a difference in the world.
When the CIs weren’t driving their Maseratis at the tracks on weekends, they were making the world a better place. It was a high-profile CI who brought down the most notorious drug lord that made crime bosses of the past like Guzmán and Capone look like the awkward kid brother. CIs brought down an entire terrorist network that almost snuck a dirty bomb into the Olympics.
A lot of people criticized the CIs and said they were only out to protect their bosses’ payday, but no one ever mentioned that, by protecting corporate interests, the people’s interests were protected too. The cop wouldn’t understand any of it. He’d think Reese was a CI chasing another payday when the reality was that this new recruit cared just as much about solving the murder as the police did.
Since the victim had a couple of anomalous shipping discrepancies, CI was called onto the scene too. Despite the cop’s misgivings, Reese wouldn’t need to touch anything to find out everything he needed to know. Microprinted nanites swarmed the scene, scanning everything and uploading it to the CI cloud. They were spawned from a top of the line set of implants. The chip in his arm and ocular enhancer in his right eye were years ahead of what someone could get installed at the mall. In fact, the injections wouldn’t even be available to the public for another five years, and by then, CI would no doubt have upgraded him.
While the profile of the murder victim was being built, Reese swiped away his display and decided to snoop around the crime scene. It didn’t take a forensic scientist to figure out the cause of death. The man’s head was caved in with a blunt object. The wound was messy and created by many swifts strikes, as if the killer lashed out with rage. From the angle of the blow, the perpetrator was of average height.
From the looks of it, the body would have gone unnoticed for a while if a couple of kids hadn’t decided to race their sticks down the storm drain. According to the social media reports, the man didn’t have anyone close enough to report him missing. A few friends grumbled at him for standing them up, and a regular gaming group questioned why he didn’t show, but there were no police reports filed. From his phone and email history, he sparingly called home. CI was quick to submit the documents for the release of personal records, and it was even easier when there was a body. Reese was sure the local police didn’t even have email access yet.
There also didn’t seem to be much motivation in his social circle for his death. No one seemed to be more than lukewarm to him. That left the shipping reports that flagged CI to investigate the potential profit loss. According to the report, Mr. Yusuf was a lead handler for MotoCom’s automated shipping service, and his vehicles seemed to be expending more energy than they were scheduled to use, which meant that he was moonlighting and MotoCom wanted a cut. All cars were driverless, but robots were not quite ready to tackle the task of moving a package from the back into the unknown circumstances of someone’s home. So the driverless trucks would park outside a house, and the handlers would bring the box to the door.
The victim’s job was to sit in a truck all day and deliver packages when it stopped. Robots were no doubt already being conceived that could replace Derrick and his coworkers, but until the robotics companies could guarantee that a robot wouldn’t trample a kid playing in the lawn when it went to deliver a package, humans were still needed for deliveries, especially furniture. Derrick seemed to deliver a lot of it.
However, unlike driverless cars, which had the backing of many large companies to get them on the road, the multipurpose robot that could move a couch didn’t have as many industry giants because the real money was in digital property. Since all buildings constructed after a certain year had 3D printing technology built into their very walls, companies had been selling people the right to use their designs for a subscription fee.
Because objects could materialize from the 3D printers in the walls of most houses, the act of shopping every week for the latest fashion had become an antiquated thing. People really didn’t own anything anymore. The stylish handbag was the digital right to reproduce that handbag. As soon as the owner canceled their subscription, they no longer had the right to produce the purse, so the 3D printers would strip it down atom by atom and use the material for whatever active subscriptions were there. It was the ultimate in recycling.
Since most people 3D printed everything in their lives, Derrick’s job was a niche industry. The other odd part was that people very rarely had furniture shipped. People who kept the shipping industry alive did it because they would insist that 3D-printed wine didn’t taste the same, or wanted a printed book signed by the author with the assurance that the author’s hand really did touch that page. The bulk of shipped items consisted mainly of small objects that a collector or an enthusiast would pay absurdly high prices for in order to prove that its molecules weren’t stacked up by a 3D printer.
A collector wanting furniture that didn’t come from a 3D printer had to have deep pockets. Derrick bought wine from a vineyard once as a gift for his girlfriend, and it was the most expensive thing he ever purchased in gift form. And in all honesty, when his girlfriend wasn’t looking, he had the same wine 3D printed and could not tell the difference. He thought that the whole shipping industry was a gimmick to squeeze money out of wealthy people.
However, the furniture deliveries didn’t add up. Derrick delivered to many different addresses and never the same one twice. Each delivery was to a different name. Even an enthusiast wouldn’t have that many alternate identities. The only possibilities were that the mystery person was paying a new person every couple of days to receive the furniture and then coming to pick it up later, presumably to hide its final destination, or the person was laundering money, and most of the shipments were fake. It was a possibility that Derrick doctored his reports and got a payout for no delivery.
However, laundering money in the shipping world was pretty complicated. Since the truck had an internal scale that would track the weight coming on and off, Mr. Yusuf would have had to hack the system and trick the onboard computers into believing that furniture was being delivered, in addition to paying off all the movers under him to corroborate the story. The furniture was loaded on the truck at one of the mega-warehouses that were initially constructed by Amazon. He’d have to do some digging to see where the furniture came from because the mega-warehouses were the world’s largest middlemen.
Reese was sure the crime and the massive influx of furniture had to be connected. Even though he wasn’t supposed to investigate the murder, he knew he’d be the one to figure it out. If he could leave the world a better place than he had inherited, then he could count his new job as a win. The first step would involve checking out the last shipment Derrick ever delivered, an apartment full of furniture to a Tyrell Bryant.
The Robin Hood of couches is coming out soon! Check out the cover art below. Remember, if you want to get the special Patreon members only version of this book with bonus content place a $5 or above donation before 7/25/19 ($2 donations will get the regular eBook edition in advance of everyone else). If you want to skip all this Patreon stuff you can preorder on Amazon here.
Thank you to everyone whose supported me already. Here is a sneak peak at the first chapter:
Tyrell’s life was officially over. He elected to spend his last precious moments fiddling with the controls of his couch. When he had first learned of the impending disaster, he decided on Fluffy Cloud, which made it feel like he was drifting through the air when he sat on the billowing white cushions. Now, after a few swipes and taps on the display hovering in front of him, he selected College Futon. The molecules in the couch rearranged themselves to a hard, uncomfortable mattress on top of a black metal frame.
College Futon felt right. Let them take a sad futon when they took everything he owned. He went for the TV next. He closed the couch app on the screen hovering in front of him and opened the TV one. He always liked 360 Display with HoloSport Playback. He could see the football fly from the rear wall of his apartment to the front as if it were in the room. He turned off 360 and pulled up 1970’s Vintage Wood Panel Tube. The TV screen that enveloped his living room faded away, and an old tube TV with wood paneling appeared on the other side of the room from his futon.
Tyrell got up and clicked the big thick knob of the set. The screen changed from an I Love Lucy rerun to the technicolor world of Green Acres. He laughed as he flipped the channels with an actual dial. “Don’t touch that dial,” he said and cackled.
The replica was so authentic. He even had to bang the side of the TV when the picture went out. He could have saved so much money per month if he had done this earlier and stripped the furniture in his apartment to the basic models and lowered his service plans. But now it was too late; his bank account was not only negative, but it was so negative that his next paycheck wouldn’t even make it positive again.
He would have been fine if his son’s school waited till withdraw the tuition Wednesday like they said they would. Instead, every little five-dollar transaction got hit with an overdraft fee. Tyrell was addicted to chipping in five bucks to any Kickstarter campaign that seemed halfway exciting or had a heartwarming story behind it. The little charges created a giant negative cash flow when the overdraft fees got involved.
Tyrell had yelled at the customer service representative of the bank. He had called the fees a tax a on poor people and would rant to anyone who would listen about how banks could charge as many fees as they wanted, but the only people it would end up hurting were the people without money. He had screamed and yelled, but in the end, could do nothing to prevent the loss of everything he owned.
He plopped back down on the futon and enjoyed the last few moments on a hard, uncomfortable surface. The screen hovering in the air popped up with a message and a countdown timer marking the final minutes he’d own a couch:
Couch+: FINAL NOTICE: Your payment was unable to process. Enter alternate payment method now?
When Tyrell failed to enter an alternate payment method, the couch dissolved when the timer reached zero. With no molecules strung together under his rump to form a College Futon, he hit the floor with a thump.
The TV went next:
TV HERO: Payment failed: 3rd NOTICE. Please enter a new payment method now to avoid disruption of your service.
In the course of the next few days, every object he owned disappeared until he was left with an empty apartment. He thanked his lucky stars that his bathroom was tied to the rent and wasn’t on a subscription service. He still had another couple of weeks to figure out that impending disaster.
The 3D printer built into the fabric of his walls was the deluxe edition, and the payment bounced like the rest of them. Now he couldn’t even print a new couch even if he could restart his service. He sat down in the middle of the empty room and a pit formed in his stomach. Tyrell’s ex would be dropping off his son tomorrow, and once she saw the state of his apartment, everything she ever said or thought about him would be confirmed. He knew what would happen next. She would march his son out the door, and the state would evaluate his fitness to be a father. Because of a few overdraft fees, he would never see his son again.
His paycheck had hit the account a week ago. The negative balance was slightly less negative but still not even enough for a meal. Tyrell was hungry because even the food in his fridge (not to mention the fridge itself) was on a subscription service. He was lucky that lunch was a perk at his place of employment, so he at least got one meal a day plus whatever he could shove into his pockets.
Tyrell pondered borrowing some money to clear the balance and at least re-up his kid’s room subscription service. His mother had less money than him. His father was in prison, and his friends always owed him money. That left payday loans, which were worse. He’d owe more money than he could afford in interest and be right back where he started. However, the black hole of payday loans was tempting. Maybe his ex would be a little more sympathetic when she saw he spent his last dime on his son.
Tyrell wrung his hands and cursed the overdraft fees. There were fees to keep his drone technician license up-to-date. There were fees for phones, utilities, and roadways. Every time he encountered a necessary task from the government, there were fees. There were late fees, overdraft fees, neighborhood associations fees, parking fees, and the ultimate scam, the electronic processing fee.
It also didn’t help that most of his paycheck would go to his ex. The money was supposed to be for his son, but he saw her nails and hair. They weren’t cheap to maintain. He cut that thought before it could go any further. Whenever things got rocky, he’d blame her for their problems, which led to the divorce. It wasn’t until he almost lost his son that he realized he had some of the blame to share as well.
He sat in an empty apartment and waited for his life to crumble.
The doorbell rang.
He tiptoed toward the front door. His footsteps echoed in the empty apartment, and the noise was unsettling. He almost didn’t answer the door, but the doorbell was persistent. He swung it opened, and a white guy with a long beard and thick glasses said, “Tyrell Bryant?”
“Who’s asking?” Tyrell said.
“We have a delivery for you,” the man said, and a screen appeared between them with a signature box. Tyrell reached out and signed for the package with a flick of his finger. The man went back downstairs to get the shipment. Tyrell racked his brain for what it could possibly be. The various Kickstarter campaigns would always come with a reward, but they would still be digital.
In fact, he couldn’t remember the last time he had a physical object shipped to his house.
It was way more expensive to order an object like a fancy new kitchen knife and have it delivered than to pay a low monthly fee for a fully stocked kitchen of any utensil he desired. Only elderly people like his grandma had kitchens with all these drawers and cabinet space. Before his subscription ran out, he’d punch in the tool he needed, and it would appear on the counter in front of him. When he was done, it would disappear along with the mess. It was much better than loading the dishwasher, like when he was a kid.
Only collectors and wealthy people seemed to own physical objects anymore. He had a friend who would buy the hundred-dollar tier on Kickstarter just to buy a physical copy of a book because he liked the way the pages felt. He used to think his friend was such an oddball. However, his entire collection of Kickstarter reward books disappeared when the EliteCloudPlatinum digital storage space had expired. He would not make fun of his friend anymore because of what he’d give for a book or something to take his mind off his encounter with his ex tomorrow.
The bearded man didn’t come back with a book or anything that could even be misconstrued as a reward for supporting a crowd-funded campaign. It was a couch, a large brown sofa with a stain resistant finish.
“Where you want it?” the bearded man said.
“I didn’t order this,” Tyrell said.
“If there is a problem with the order, take it up with the place you bought it from. We are just the delivery service.” The man rolled his eyes. His partner set the couch down and leaned against it.
“No, what I mean to say is you got the wrong address.”
“Are you Tyrell Bryant? At this address?”
“Then all this stuff is yours.”
“What do you mean all?” Just as Tyrell said that, two more large men hefted a twin-sized bed up the stairs. It was the perfect size for his son’s room.
“You can refuse delivery—” the bearded man began.
“No, you can put that over here, and that bed can go in the smaller of the two bedrooms under the window,” Tyrell said. His prayers had been answered. Even if it was a mix-up, maybe he could keep the stuff long enough to clear his account and give his son a place to stay for the week.
For the rest of the night, the movers lugged a two-bedroom apartment’s worth of furniture up three flights of stairs and down the hall to 307. He was getting the full service from lamps to a new bed, and even kitchen utensils (including a cart to store them in). He also got a network-enabled TV, not that it would do any good without subscriptions to any of the streaming services. To his surprise, he even got a bookshelf with enough books to make his friend jealous. What really amazed him was an archaic piece of technology called a Blu-ray player. He hadn’t seen one of those since he was a kid. Physical movie players disappeared when collections went digital. Some of the movies included were ones he remembered watching as a kid in his pajamas with his father. However, oddly enough, there were new movies too, even though companies stopped making Blu-rays years and years ago.
Before he could ponder any further, the bearded man shoved a stylus in Tyrell’s face and sent him a request to share a screen. “Sign here to verify that it is all here.”
“Since I don’t know what supposed to be here, sure, I’ll sign,” Tyrell said. The bearded man and his colleagues walked out the door. He could hear them mumbling something about rich people as they went for the elevator. Tyrell would have been right there grumbling with them if his apartment wasn’t fully loaded with subscription-free furniture. The couch itself must have been worth years of Couch+ service, and it was sitting in his place.
Tyrell was pretty sure it wasn’t illegal to accept gifts, and for all he knew, the furniture was a gift. It was addressed to him, and while he didn’t know all of his neighbors, he was pretty sure a person who could afford to have furniture delivered wouldn’t live in his apartment complex. He was sure they lived in compounds with private lakes in the center. Even if they did come looking for it, he’d give it back. All he needed was a few weeks to get his bank account back on track.
Until he knew otherwise, he decided to treat it like it was his own.
That was until the police showed up on his doorstep a week later.
I wanted to give a token of my appreciation for the support I’ve already received on Patreon. I have two offers for you. Time Burrito will be on sale for 99 cents from now till 7/12/19 (US and UK only)! Othello and Zombies will be free during that same time frame. Thank you again for your support, your donations help me keep producing books and you get some cool stuff for your donation. If you haven’t already, check out my Patreon page here.
Keep being awesome!
It’s been a while since I last contacted you all because two things needed to happen. I needed to be able to walk again (check) and The Robin Hood of Couches needed to be complete (check). If you recall, back in January we raised over $1000 for The Robin Hood of Couches on Kickstarter, but the campaign didn’t fund its overall goal, so I didn’t get any money.
Instead of funding the book through Kickstarter where I don’t get any money, I’m switching to Patreon, where I get what you generously donate regardless if it is only 1 person or 100. I’m hoping that you’ll donate at the same level you did for The Robin Hood of Couches, and you’ll get the same reward. The best part is that Kickstarter had some eye popping shipping fees, I’m going to eat the shipping fees myself, and you’ll get the book for $25 no extra cost for shipping international or otherwise!
In order to keep the shipping low enough for me to do that, I’m going to have to add $10 to the price for signed copies (because I need to ship those books I sign to me, then pay another fee to get it to you). For $35, I’ll sign it and write you a personal message. Part of the benefit of becoming a patron is that people ask me all the time how to get my books in ePub, well this is your chance. The Advanced digital copies will be available in MOBI, ePub, and PDF.
Finally, for those who had picked the rewards to be characters in the book. I can’t do it for this book because I scrimped and saved and have already sent it to a professional editor. But if you get the reward level of minor or major character, I’ll make sure I get you as a character in a future book, as well as getting a signed copy.
The best part about Patreon is that if you like my work, you can continue to donate to each project I do, and it only charges you when I release a new book. Don’t worry, I’ll always let you know when a new book is on the way, so you’ll have time to opt out if the next one isn’t for you. However, right now I only publish about two books a year so that it only costs you $50 a year to help me provide high quality editing, cover art, and all the things that make a book shine. And who knows, if I get more supporters down the line, maybe I’ll publish more than two a year.
Thank you all for your support and you can go here to support me and get The Robin Hood of Couches as your reward and ORION as a the bonus digital book if you choose that level. In order to get this exclusive offer, you’ll need to sign up before 7/25/19. Let’s see if we can blow that Kickstarter campaign out of the water!
Thank you again for your support.
Hello there friends, Romans, countrymen, and countrywomen (its not a guy/girl thing)! As you know, I had to take some time off to recover from a bad injury (I still got two more weeks to go before I can put weight on the leg. Then there is time learning how to walk again! Oh the joy!).
During the recovery time, I kept myself busy with some writing projects including the 7th story in my short story series the Teristaque Chronicles. Don’t worry. Robin Hood of Couches is still forthcoming, I just decided that in between the Kickstarter and now, I wanted to do a little more rewriting. But my plan is still July of this year, so stay tuned for that book because it’s the next on my list.
In the meantime, enjoy Hayden’s Dilemma over here. And as always, if you want to help out, the best way to help independent artists is by leaving reviews or telling a friend. For the Teristaque Chronicles, it’s easy to tell a friend because the first story is free.
Thank you all for your support!
PS: ORION is going to be on sale for 99 cents from 3/31/19-4/7/19! That book happens to be one of my personal favorites.
It looks like the project was not successfully funded. However, I am amazed at the support that I did get. We raised $1112! That’s actually enough for me to get the book out with a little bit of nipping and tucking on some of the cover art and editing services. However, because I’m still at home with a broken leg. I need to focus on my injury and getting better. The break happened about a day after I launched, so perhaps it was never meant to be. Either way, I will get the book out and your help would be tremendous in doing so.
What I’m going to do is move the operation from Kickstarter to Patreon. They have a way where you can support me per project. So you chip in and a certain level, and you’ll get a reward similar to the ones offered here and it will only charge when a book is ready to go. I’ll be reaching out again when the Patreon page is up and running (sometime maybe when I can walk again so I can get to the post office to mail those books 🙂 ).
Thank you all for your support! It really meant a lot to see the all the folks backing this project. If you’re looking for something to read in the meantime. I’m going to make the first short story I ever wrote free (2/6/19-2/10/19). It’s called Time Beast and it pairs with song I wrote (and “sang”) for a metal prog band. Which, psst, you can download the who album for free by clicking on “buy” and entering in zero for the price.
Also, consider joining my email list, you’ll get a free book and short story just for joining!
Hope you enjoy the freebies and I’ll reach out when I’m ready to launch the Patreon.