I wanted to thank everybody who voted for Time Burrito and let you know that it’s on amazon right now. If you have a Kindle Unlimited account, you can start reading. If you don’t and can spare $3, that would help out a lot. If you can’t spare the $3, I understand that too and will run a free download promotion on Amazon on or around April 19th (stay tuned for more details).
In meantime, if you want to help me out, there are several ways you can do it. The best way is tell friend about the book, or share it on social media. People love cats, so why not give them a cat on a burrito? If you’ve read it, reviews also help a whole bunch. (Note to my friends and family, you cannot leave a review. Amazon will delete those). Here’s how to get it on Amazon:
Hi everyone, I wanted to let you all know that I just did an interview on Real Paranormal Activity. If you haven’t heard, the show is a great podcast that reads listener ghost stories. Check it out on your favorite podcast app (just in time for Halloween). If you want to hear my interview where I talk about writing, life, and even a few ghost stories of my own, you can listen to it here.
And if you haven’t nominated Othello and Zombies yet. Seriously, what are you waiting for? You can nominate here.
My next book Atmospheric Pressure is ready to be shared with the world. And it has some awesome cover art by a buddy of mine named Philip Hughes. Before I unleash it on the world of Amazon, I have a request from all of you. Please nominate the book in Kindle Scout. I need nominations to get a publishing deal, and nominators get a free Kindle edition if I get published. It’s a win for both of us. Click here to nominate.
Here’s a short description of the book:
Olson lives in a city that has been sealed from the outside world. He’s an Eleven Year and close to citizenship. His life is upended when one of the few adults who cares about him commits suicide – or so it appears at first. While investigating, Olson meets a girl named Natalie snooping around his school. He soon learns that one of her friends died under similarly mysterious circumstances. Together, they start looking for answers, and end up discovering the city’s darkest secrets.
Author’s Note: As you may have already noticed, I’ve slowed down writing the Footfalls posts. Mainly because there are a couple of other projects taking priority at the moment. My second novel, Atmospheric Pressure, is very close to completion. The 4th story in the Kal series is also making a lot of headway. I will continue to write Footfalls, but I only have a limited amount of writing time. Until the books sales equal my paycheck, I’ll have squeeze it in when I have some time. In meantime, please enjoy installment 7:
“Ghost? What do you mean ghosts?” Luther said. His voice tuned up a notch or two when he got nervous. The shrill squeak of the word ghost almost made Angela want to have a serious conversation with him about why he never seemed to get a girlfriend. Aside from crushes on lesbians, he really spent too much of his time whining about his situation rather than doing anything about it. He would write these annoying tweets like “so and so didn’t even talk to me today, guess I’ll be single forever.”
Sometimes, she wanted to reach through the computer, slap him, and yell, “No wonder why you’re single!” Other times, she wanted to friend dump him. However, no matter how annoying he could be, there would always be a glimmer of hope. He would come through when she needed him. He picked her up from a friend’s house when she was too high to drive home and didn’t feel safe about staying. He stuck up for her when someone would pick on her for her sexuality. Most people would just stay quiet when bigots expressed their opinion about her “life choices.” Luther was never quiet. Despite the fact that everyday life seemed almost too much for Luther, he was there when she needed him. Right now she needed him. Hopefully, now wouldn’t be the time Luther would break.
“The little girl. She saw us,” Angela said. “But the father didn’t. And the clothes. They are definitely not from our time period. Look at this basement. It looks new.”
“So what are you saying? We time traveled?”
“It’s something more than that. The father didn’t even react to us.”
“Maybe strange people in his basement is a regular occurrence.”
“Would you just ignore the strangers talking to your little girl in your house?”
“Um… Ok. Right. So what do we do? Can’t we just draw the witch marks again and go back.”
“Not until we find my brother.”
“But what if there is a time limit? What if it doesn’t open?”
“Look, you can go back. I’m not stopping you, but my brother is back in this time, I just know it.”
Angela explained to Luther everything she had learned from Mr. Harrison’s photograph to her thoughts on the current situation. She drew the symbol on his sketch book, so he’d be able to draw it himself if he needed it. Afterwards, Luther decided to stay. Despite the fact that he could be annoying from time to time, he was always there when she needed him.
They decided to explore the rest of the house. If the only person in the house who could see them was the little girl, it would be pretty easy to have a look around. If Angela’s brother really had tagged a wall in the future and ended up discovering a tunnel to the past then there should be a sign of him somewhere within the house. They would also have to ask the girl when she was away from the adults.
They made their way up the stairs and opened the door to the kitchen. Everything looked new despite the fact that the appliances were very old. The oven looked like it was a polished antique with ornate legs like it was a piece of furniture out of a movie set. The refrigerator was nothing more than an icebox. The place was clean and didn’t have the musty smell that most old houses had.
They made their way into the dining room. The same table that seemed to stand as a monument to time looked completely new. The room was also bright and decorated. There were dishes on display in the built-ins. The girl and the dad were setting the table. The girl looked up at them when they came into the room. Angela smiled and put her finger over her lips. The girl nodded and continued to help her father.
A woman entered with a bag of groceries. She was wearing a turn of the century dress and bonnet. The shopping bag had a loaf of bread sticking out of the top. The scene looked exactly as one would expect from a historical drama. “I’m so sorry about the delay. You know how it can be in town. You get to talking and one thing leads to another…”
“It’s ok. I decided to make supper this evening for all of us,” the husband said with a cheery smile.
“It’s definitely not your average turn of the century family,” Luther whispered.
“Why are you whispering?” Angela said. “It’s not as if they can hear us.”
“She can!” Luther said.
“She’s agreed not to talk with us until her parents aren’t around. Nod if you understand me.” Angela said, and the girl nodded her acknowledgement. “So why would you say they aren’t average?”
“The dad is doing the cooking.”
“Plenty of father’s cook. Mine does for us every night.”
“But this is the 1900s! Didn’t women have to do whatever their husband wanted?”
“Quit being a misogynist.”
“Misogynist! I’m not the misogynist. They are! They didn’t even let women vote.”
Angela rolled her eyes and said. “Come on, let’s explore the rest of the house.”
Angela and Luther went through the house. It was what one would expect from a turn of the century farm house. The furniture that would be antique by their standards looked new. The decorations were out of a different era. There was even an old time phonograph that gleamed like it was new.
Throughout the house, they found no evidence of her brother. There wasn’t anything to suggest that travelers from her time period had ever been to the house. Once Angela was satisfied there were no rooms undiscovered or any clues missed, they turned their attention back to the family. The little girl had to know something. They decided to confront her after dinner.
They made their way back down the stairs and into the kitchen. The family had just finished eating when Angela and Luther stepped into the room. The woman began to pick up the plates. The husband stopped her and said in the same cheery tone. “No, I got it dear. You both relax. I’ll fix up some dessert.”
“I couldn’t really,” The woman protested.
“I insist. You’ll love it. It’s a French recipe.” The husband said and scooped up the dirty dishes. The woman sat back down and the daughter eyed both Luther and Angela. Luther turned to follow the husband into the kitchen.
“Where are you going?” Angela said.
“I’m curious,” Luther said. “I wonder if we can eat food from this time.”
“We are trapped in the past and all you can think about is dessert?”
“We can’t talk to her in front of her parents. Might as well make the most out of the time we are here. Besides, you never know when what we learn will come in handy.”
“In case we need to eat our way out of a situation?”
“I mean the manipulation of objects. Even poltergeist stories have some sort of truth to them.”
He did have a point. Angela followed Luther into the kitchen. The husband pulled out a bowl from the icebox that looked like chocolate pudding. He stirred the mixture and turned to look over his shoulder. Even though Angela knew he couldn’t see her, it looked as if he was staring right at her. He pulled a vial from his coat pocket. The vial had a skull and crossbones on it. Once he was satisfied that no one was watching, he poured the vial into the pudding and stirred it some more. A wicked grin appeared on his face as he poured the mixture into three serving bowls.
Hayden’s craft landed on Tek’Tu’Pat’s landing platform on the ocean. Tek was the wealthiest city of Nigramoto, and the landing platform was the largest on the entire planet. At a few hundred kilometers long and one hundred wide, it handled the entire off world transport. Every commercial, civilian, and military craft landed in different sections of the mega platform. It was the largest structure on the planet, and its silver sheen could be seen from orbit.
Freighters packed with the black decrand ore were lined in rows waiting for their military escorts for their trip into space. Frigates and squadrons of fighters flew in formation around each freighter. Since humans had spread to over three hundred systems, the energy requirements for human civilization required more energy than a star could produce. Decrand could generate one thousand times more power than solar panels could collect. The human race was powered by decrand, and Hayden was here to protect it.
Hayden was packed into a troop transport with several of his brothers-and-sisters-in-arms. A quick release belt kept him from being tossed from his seat when they dropped from orbit. His troop was a mean looking bunch with scars and the eyes of soldiers who had seen too much. Their power armor made them look larger than life. However, since they weren’t wearing their helmets, their heads looked small compared to their bodies. Sarge’s suit clanged against the metal floor as he stomped through the troops. Underneath the armor, Sarge was built, bald, and mean looking. He was almost more intimidating without the battle gear.
“Everybody suit up,” Sarge yelled. “You think you’re here for a vacation. We are here to work.”
Hayden fumbled for his helmet and wasn’t as quick to gear up. Sarge spotted his fumble, and put his face up to Hayden.
“What’s a matter babyface? You need your mom to help dress you?”
Everyone called Hayden babyface, partially because Hayden looked like he should be in a boy band, and also because he was the new guy. No one liked Hayden, but Hayden knew it was more because he hadn’t earned their respect yet. Until Hayden had a chance to prove himself, he would be the butt of their jokes.
“No sir.” Hayden said. “There is no excuse for this recruit to not be ready, sir.”
“Recruit?” Sarge laughed, “You’re still in boot camp? Last I heard you were a soldier.”
Sarge narrowed his eyes, and came so close to Hayden that he could smell the tobacco on his breath. Hayden didn’t flinch and looked Sarge in the eyes.
“So why don’t you act like a soldier?” Sarge said firmly.
“Yes sir, sir.”
Hayden put on his helmet. He connected the breathing tube in front to the filter mounted in the chest. The heads up display in his field of vision ran through the checks of the various ocular enhancements built into the eye pieces. After they were all in their power armor, they looked inhuman. They had large black eyes and a tube leading from their mouth like a gas mask from ancient times. Hayden understood why the other species called a soldier in his body armor Teristaques. They were a fierce group to behold.
The troop transport landed with a loud clank. Sarge screamed at them, and they all clicked the quick release of their belts and jumped to their feet. The hatch in the back opened, and they all ran down to the platform. The landing platform from the ground point of view was a large flat plane of metal in every direction. In the area around Hayden, there were swarms of troops, hover tanks, fighters, spider walkers, disc rovers, and every military equipment imaginable. The commercial and civilian part of the platform were too distant too see.
Sarge lined up the troops for inspection. His commanding officer, Colonel Dodgery, came shortly after and said, “At ease.”
The men and women of the squad relaxed, and the red haired officer with skin tone of a man who drank too much walked slowly through the ranks. He wasn’t wearing power armor, and was dwarfed by the suited soldiers around him. He pulled a tiny piece of decrand from his pocket. It was no larger than his finger tip, but Hayden could see his muscles straining to hold it up even though his face didn’t register the burden. “Can anyone tell me what this is?”
“Decrand, sir.” Hayden said. The other soldiers laughed.
“Did I say you could laugh?” Colonel Dodgery said, and the others became rigid. “Sure that’s what the lab coat jockies call it, but to us it is the heart of civilization. Every member of your family enjoys their lifestyle from this rock. Why are you here soldier?”
“To protect the decrand?”
“You are here to protect our way of life. This is not like the soft inner planets. Out here is the frontier, and you are the law. Have you ever seen a man bleed out?”
“Only in simulation, sir.”
“Yes sir,” Tomahawk said. He was nicknamed after a weapon he had in his bunk that he claimed could be traced all the way back to his ancestors on Earth. It was a reminder that he came from a long line of warriors. The military was the only life he had known, and the only life he cared about. After the Liberation Wars, he was given some property on Earth, and a retirement settlement to last him a lifetime. He reenlisted the next day.
“Have you ever seen a man bleed out?”
“Where did it happen?”
“A few clicks northeast of here.”
“What did you do?”
“Everything in my power to save him sir.”
“He died from his wounds, sir.”
“What did you do after that?
“My job, sir.”
“And what’s your job?”
“To protect our way of life.”
“This is not a simulation. We are not on a civilized planet. We are on the border of the Treaty Zone. You may feel like you’re at home when you are in the walls of Tek but rest assured, there are rebels, hostile aliens, and creatures that don’t care about us or the way of life we are trying to protect. We live on the edge so others don’t have too. We are not guarding your mother’s flower garden. We are protecting the most important ore in the universe. If a freighter doesn’t take off every hour, people will starve. I expect the best. I honor those better than that. Dismissed.”
The troop called out their honor cry. Sarge and Colonel Dodgery walked away. The troop began gathering their gear from the transport. Spider, the communications specialist, turned to Tomahawk , “Hey Tommy, you got his speech memorized yet? You certainly know your part.”
Tomahawk gave Spider a rude hand gesture and continued to pack the gear onto the floating platform.
Hayden turned to Spider, “Does he give the same speech every year?”
“Everyday more like it. Every squad of fools like us that ship in from off world.”
“How many times you’ve been here?”
“Since the war ended? I’d say five. With a year off here and there. I’m surprised I’ve made it home each time.”
“Is it really that bad?”
“Nigs make a good workforce, but they’re tough mothers. Power armor or not, you turn your back on one. Count yourself dead.”
“Noted,” Hayden said. He had heard similar stories, and read all the debriefs. The local intelligent species, the Nigramotoians, dwarfed humans outside of their power armor. They were broad shouldered, and strong. One Nigramotoian could flip a hover tank, and puncture power armor with a medieval weapon. They were a fierce species, and it was easy to see why. The gravity on Nigramoto was five times Earth’s gravity. Most planets had nickel and iron in their cores. Nigramoto had a decrand core. An unenhanced human outside their power armor would barely be able to move. Even with the standard issue muscle and bone enhancements each soldier received in boot camp, a human outside their armor was sluggish compared to a Nigramotoian.
They pushed the hover platform with their gear towards the edge of the landing strip. A group of battle mechs towered over them in formation. They were black with the United Planets of Earth colors. Each had a variety of missile, plasma, projectile, and laser weaponry. The mechs sat three people in the armored chest plate, one pilot, and two weapon specialists. They were deadly machines, but Hayden didn’t like cockpits. He didn’t like feeling restricted. While ground soldiers had the highest morality rate, he at least had the freedom a mech pilot could never have.
Hayden grew up in the cramped Los Angeles mega-city back on Earth. His father and three brothers all shared a four hundred square-foot modular apartment. The apartment would convert to whatever space they needed. Beds would descend from the walls at night. Showers would sprout in the morning. A living area rose during the day. A dining area shifted from the wall for meal time. Hayden’s life was regulated out of necessity. It was no wonder why three of the four children joined the military. Hayden’s oldest brother died in the Libration Wars. His frigate was caught in the path of a planetary bombardment, and his body burnt in the atmosphere of Sallax Prime. That left Hayden and his other brother Joshua, who avoided most of the conflict because he was a mechanic, and Hayden missed the conflict because he was too young. The war had ended by the time he could enlist.
Hayden’s brother back home, Paul, was an English teacher. He took care of their father who had retired from the desalinization plant after forty grueling years of labor. Most of the muscles and joints were replaced several times from the manual labor. If only his father had access to the enhancements available to military personnel, he could have had a less sedentary retirement. Either way, the arrangement worked out. Paul was never good at sports, and always was the odd brother out. It didn’t come as a surprise that most of the family would be light years away from the congested planet of Earth.
His group got to the edge of the platform, and Tek’Tu’Pat spread out before them. The city was alien in its architecture. Unlike humans, who built large vertical structures, the buildings were ziggurat shaped and communal. The buildings all connected more like growths, than like Earth buildings that were all separate. Various floating ships, vehicles, and hover discs were buzzing around the city like flies.
When humans first arrived on Nigramoto, the Nigramotoians were just entering their computer age. The cities were still really small with no more than ten million at the largest. Hayden even heard rumors that there were still Nigramotoians who lived in villages, living the lifestyle of their ancient ancestors. By comparison, there were pockets of humanity who still lived in tribes up until technology swept the planet, and began creating the first union governments, that marked the beginning of the end of tribal life.
The most breath taking sight was the wilderness around the city. There was actual uninhabited land unlike Earth, where uninhabited land was very scarce and almost always reserved for the ultra rich. Part of what inspired Hayden to sign up for the military was a trip to Colorado with his father and brothers as a boy. Parts of the Colorado Rockies were some of the few public places on Earth with natural wildlife. The parks were tightly regulated. They were monitored with satellite, and the passes to visit the park were so rare people had to wait years for a chance to visit, or have considerable wealth to buy out a person’s spot in line.
While the passes were only limited to one per family, nature reserve brokers facilitated the transfer of passes from families who ran into money trouble before their wait. Hayden’s father held fast to his pass. Despite the offers and the times where he nearly sold their one and only chance to see the wilderness, his father didn’t budge. The Colorado Rockies were the most memorable moment of his life. Years later, Hayden signed up for the foot patrol if only for the chance to see the wilderness again. Here on Nigramoto, as far from civilization as he could get, Hayden might get a chance to walk among the trees again. The time spent on lifeless rocks, and cramped spaces seemed worth it. The sight before his eyes was an endless expanse of forest.
Thus begins the egregious amount of references to Pink Floyd in my novel Playlist of the Ancient Dead. There isn’t a single band with more songs that appear in the novel. Not only are they one of my favorites, but they are the best band of all time period, no further reason to argue. So there you go Internet, I’m stating my opinion as if it were fact. No one has ever done that before!
As for why I chose the song for this chapter, let’s talk about Caroline for a moment. I feel that Caroline never had any doubt in her mind that she wanted to go on the adventure. She’s the type of person who would see a pit and jump inside just to see what’s at the bottom. Whereas most people would stand clear of the abyss that invites her inside. If she sees too willing to follow Murphy down the rabbit hole, it’s because she’ll go were others dare not. And the warehouse knows this about her and opens for her.
Chapter five is where she tries to fake having a logical mind, and convincing herself not to go (which she does poorly). She tries to do what a smoker who always fails to quit does. They go through the list of reasons why they shouldn’t smoke even though they know fully that they are going to light up after they go through the list. I feel the character in Welcome to the Machine knows he’s making a deal with devil and does it anyway. Caroline knows she is doing something dangerous but does it anyway thus welcoming her to the Machine or more specifically, the maw of a warehouse full of dark forces but the machine sounds better.