AI Created This Demotivational Poster

Dinspiration

The above image was created by an AI attempting to make motivational images. I thought it was creepy and pretty relevant to a story idea I had, so I thought I’d share it with all of you. You’ll hear about that story here first. In the meantime, here are the deals for August.

The dystopian novel Atmospheric Pressure is on sale for only 99 cents August 3rd-7th. I am very close to finishing the first draft of the sequel to the book, so this is a great way to get caught up with the series.

I also have four free stories for you. The first two stories are an epic space opera series and can be found here:

Kal’s Fall
Kal’s Truth (Limited Time Only)

Also the first two stories of the time travel comedy Sperm Donor for a Cosmic Paradox:

Sperm Donor for a Cosmic Paradox

Customer Service Scientist (Limited Time Only)

Enjoy, and don’t forget to leave a review. They really help me out.

Even More Free Books!

I’m giving away Kal’s Fall (The First Teristaque Chronicles story) away for free on instaFreebie. The best part is that there are over 20 Space Opera stories that you can get during the promotion. So head over to the link below and get them all!

20 Free Space Operas

If you want the first five stories of the Teristaque Chronicles in one collection, go here.

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The Teristaque Chronicles

audiobookcoverviThe first volume of the collected Teristaque Chronicles is now out on audiobook. For those who’ve been following Spiral, you’ll recognize a lot of songs from many different albums. There’s even some of my wife’s stunning violin solo work.

The Teristaque Chronicles are a set of short stories that I’ve been writing to get my fix of Space Opera. I plan to write more in the series so be on the look out for future installments. For now, enjoy the audiobook. You can listen to a sample and download the whole book here.

Here’s the description: Kal has always been considered too fragile to participate in the village activities. Her lithe stature seems to link her to her father, and distance her from everyone else. He left the village to fight in the Teristaque Wars and never returned. She meets Sarge, a strange star species of the human race who seems to know the secret of the patch from her father’s uniform. Kal has always known she is different from her fellow villagers, and finally, she may be closer to finding out why.

You’re still here? Have a free download of the first Teristaque Chronicle story: Kal’s Fall.

The Teristaque Chronicles

TC-EbookThis year has been quite an adventure for my writing. Even though I just released a book last April, I’m going to release another one on July, 5th. The Teristaque Chronicles Volume I is a space adventure story in the vein of Star Trek. It’s up for pre-order now, so get your copy by following the link above. The book includes the first five short stories in one book, so it’s a great deal.

The Teristaque Chronicles is an ongoing writing project where I’ve been writing parts to a larger series in small novelettes rather than releasing a book. Eventually, each character in the series will have their own stories. Some advance the overall plot, others are just backstory to a particular character. Here’s a description of the first story:

Kal has always been considered too “fragile” to participate in the village activities. Her lithe stature seems to link her to her father, and distance her from everyone else. He left the village to fight in the Teristaque Wars and never returned. She meets Sarge, a strange star species of the human race who seems to know the secret of the patch from her father’s uniform. Kal has always known she is different than her fellow villagers, and finally she may be closer to finding out why.

Kal’s Truth

Kal's Truth

Click here to get the latest story.

Kal laid in a metal prison cell gasping for air, the sound of her people dying and the village burning still fresh in her mind. Her eyelids were heavy and her body felt like it was buried in sand. The first thing she could remember upon awakening was a human male with gold and silver teeth, and black rot infesting his mouth. He wore a white coat and had a bright instrument that blinded her. Unlike Sarge, his hair was grey and creased like the wrinkles that came with age. But unlike her people, this man had spots. Only later would she learn that humans developed a condition called “liver spots.”

The man in the coat turned and said something to a Teristaque waiting in the background. Her memory was incomplete, like the patchwork of one of her mother’s quilts. Every moment was a snapshot. She was being dragged through a hallway by two Teristaques. Her possessions were locked in a box. Her body was stripped. She was sprayed with a burning liquid. More dragging. Another exam from the human with the rotting gold and silver teeth. Finally, she woke up in a prison cell.

While Kal’s eyes adjusted to the darkness, she heard a low grunt from the corner of the room. The grunt sounded like a krikshek beast back home. They were a fierce beast with a dire disposition and two large horns that could impale a villager. Kal attempted to scramble to her feet, but her muscles felt like she was trying to move through a thick goo, and she fell back down.

A creature slid from the shadows. It had a large bug-like body and three spiny appendages. It dragged the lower part of its body on the ground. There were stubs where other limbs should have been. The eyes were hideous, large, and clouded grey. The bug was a shade of brown. It sent shivers down Kal’s spine. She scrambled backward, but was unable to get very far and hit her head on a metal cot. The bang would have hurt if systems weren’t suppressed.

“Don’t be afraid,” the bug said in a deep voice. “You are recovering from sedation.”

“You speak Village Tongue!” Kal said looking for the “universal translator” on what she thought would be a wrist.

“There is a translation field covering the prison,” The bug said.

“What do you mean I was under sedation?” Kal said. She still wasn’t sure about this creature.

“They sedate all criminals during interstellar travel.”

“I am not a criminal!”

The bug laughed. Unlike Sarge, the bug had a slow wheezing laugh. Kal still didn’t quite know what to make of laughter. She had no room for it. The nightmares of her village were too fresh in her mind.

The bug must have sensed that its laughter made her uncomfortable, and stopped. It reached out an appendage to comfort her. “Do not fret my dear. Everyone here believes they are not criminals, and you’ll find that some do belong here even if you do not.”

Kal pushed the thing’s arm away, “I do not need your sympathy.”

She turned to inspect her cell, finding two metal cots. One small cot for her and a large one for her buggy cellmate. The walls were smooth and metal, with bars on the opening. There were two toilet facilities, one for a humanoid of her size and another for something larger. The toilets were located in two coves on the back of the cell for at least a little privacy from her cellmate, though a guard standing on the other side of the bars had a full view of either cove.

“I don’t offer you sympathy my dear, only advice. You will find friends hard to come by in this place.”

“I don’t want your advice either,” Kal snapped.

“As you wish. You could have had worse roommates, you know. Grannork’s cell also had room for one more.”

“Oh yeah? At least Grannork doesn’t talk as much as you.”

“Grannork is Orcandu from the Tristar cluster.”

Sarge had told Kal about the Orcandus. They were brutes, and one of the few species that the Teristaques feared. They were massive creatures of pure muscle with a jagged horn on the center of their forehead and fierce, razor sharp teeth. Rumors spread that Orcandus had mis-wired brains and experienced pain as if it were pleasure. Almost every ritual in their culture was meant to induce pain. Kal shuddered to think about what it might be like to share a cell with one. At least an old-disabled bug could be managed.

The bug finally gave up and dragged itself back to its side of the room. Kal traced the cold metal wall with her fingers. She thought about the village that she practically rejected, even though it had embraced her, despite her differences. Now, she wanted nothing more than to be a part of it again. She thought about the warmth of her bed and the wood grain of the ceiling. She used to see faces in the wood grain and would make up stories about them. Now the ceiling was a smooth metal surface with no defining features. She could almost hear the humming of her mother from the kitchen as she drifted into sleep.

Support independent authors: get the kindle edition here.

Kal’s Fall

Kal's Fall

Discover the secret of Kal’s father.

“Why do I look different mother?” Kal’Da’Hak often asked her mother, and her mom would smile and tell Kal that she was blessed by Earth Mother. Kal never felt very blessed by the Earth Mother. Her bones had the strength of twigs compared to her Earth brother and sisters. She was a good length shorter and her torso was thin. When the village built a new home for the Te’Cek family after the river swallowed their home, Kal wove rope for the roof rather than lifted stone and wood. The young always did the heavy lifting, and Kal was believed to be too fragile so she wove with the elders. The worst part was that her skin was the lightest green ever to have been born. Most of her Earth brothers and sisters had vibrant green skin and with blue, orange, or silver hair. Her skin was light green and her hair was black. Kal looked like she was sick even though she felt fine. The oddest part was her eyes. They were deep blue like a clear lake. None of her people had blue eyes.

In the woods, Kal would lift stone and logs. While she could not lift as much as her Earth brothers and sisters, she still could lift without breaking her bones. The myth of her fragile bones came from various accidents in her youth. The children would use stone balls during sport. While the stone ball would bounce off her Earth brother and sisters with little bruising, the ball would shatter Kal’s ribs. Her fragile nature made her feel like an outsider of the village as she would always be stuck watching the activities or be given duties usually only reserved for the elders.

Her village and Earth brothers and sisters always treated her with respect. In fact she never felt unwelcome, or unwanted even though she felt alone. Everyone in the village looked out for one another, and Kal felt that she could never look out for them. A cart smashed the leg of one of her brethren, Wek’Ri’Ket, and Kal could not lift it. By the time she found a villager to lift the cart, Wek had lost a lot of blood and joined the ancestors with the Sky Father. No one blamed Kal or doubted her sincerity to help. Accidents were the will of the gods and not the blame of Kal’s birth. Despite the comforts from her fellow villagers, Kal felt guilty. Her “birth-blessing” was more of a curse. She would always be the weakest one of the village.

Kal also knew she was different beyond the constraints of her earthly form. Most of her Earth brother and sisters had fathers. She did not have a father. Her mom always told her that father had died in the Teristaque invasion. Kal’s father left the tribe to fight in the war while Kal grew in her mom’s belly. The Teristaques won the war, but left Kal’s village alone because they wanted Mother Earth’s metal, and Kal’s village had none. Despite never meeting a Teristaque, Kal imagined her father dying in a great battle and fighting to the last breath. She didn’t tell her family about her visions of war. Violence was abhorred by the tribe, and was only a last resort.

Aside from Kal’s fantasies, all that was left of her father was an insignia. It was a patch from his uniform. The patch featured a fierce bird swooping in an attack pose and strange lettering in a language no one in the tribe knew. Because the Teristaque’s were feared and hated by all, legend said that other tribes who lived in the stars followed the Teristaque fleet to Kal’s world and helped fight the invading force.

It wasn’t until her sixteenth season and her first real encounter with a star species that she would come closer to finding out the fate of her father.

_______

Kal pushed against a giant felled tree. Most of her Earth brothers and sisters would have easily pushed the tree without much effort. Kal pushed with all of her might, and the log barely budged. She wanted to push the log down a hill. There was a pile of logs and rocks at the bottom of the hill that she had collected from the woods. Kal planned to build a cabin by herself. She collected a fair amount of building supplies and even snuck a few tools from the tool common.

Kal liked her trips into the woods, and no one seemed to notice she was missing. She was free to do what she wanted, and never was asked to perform the tasks of the elderly. Kal thought about never returning many times even though she started building the cabin as way to display her strength to the tribe. However, the cabin would never be finished if she couldn’t push the log down the hill. She had dragged the heavy log from a long distance only to get it stuck in a rut near the top of the hill.

She pushed, pulled, yanked, and even tried to dig the log out of the rut, but it was too heavy. The rollers she used to pull the log long distances would not work in the rut. For heavy objects, the tribe would put rollers on the ground then would push or pull the objects to their destination. For several people, the task was steady and always flowing. A few of the young would pull. An elderly or Kal would dart back and forth taking a roller from the back and put it in the front. For a single person, Kal would push the log, move the rollers, and push the log some more. It was slow, but Kal was determined. And now she was thwarted by a rut.

“You know, that’s easier with two people,” A voice said from behind.

Kal nearly jumped out of her skin. She had been alone in the forest every afternoon for almost three weeks and never saw a soul. Behind her was a star species! The being was strange looking. It had thin twiggy arms, and a small chest to match. It had tan skin and brown hair. Kal was a good six inches taller than it. The being was definitely one of the star species. Kal couldn’t help herself. She reached out to touch the thing to make sure that it was real.

“Ok, ok,” the star being laughed. “I get it. You’ve never seen a human before.”

“HU-MAN?”  The clunky word did not roll of her tongue. “You mean star species?”

“Right,” The HU-MAN looked down at a device on his arm, “The translator doesn’t have human. Call me Oliver.”

“All-LIV-ER?” Kal had trouble making the words.

“Ah hell, just Sarge. The folks in the service days used to call me Sarge.”

“Sarge,” Kal pointed to him and then pointed to herself, “Kal.”

“Thank god for small favors, a local who has half a brain. You couldn’t spare some of that jerky would ya? I’m mighty hungry, and I don’t know what’s good to eat or what will kill me on this planet.”

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