The Robin Hood of Couches Special Edition

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.

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Xmas Elf is Blowing Up the Charts

I tweeted this last night as a joke:

Watch out George RR Martin. Xmas Elf is coming:

XmasElf-Silly

But in all seriousness, your support of the book is making it my most successful release to date. Maybe in twenty years and ten books later, HBO will make a gritty, completely serious, Xmas Elf series that will actually have a chance to compete with Game of Thrones. In the meantime, if you like this book and want to help me get it to as many people as possible, there are a few things you can do.

Tell three people you think would get a kick out of the story about the book. Seriously, just three. If they tell three, and they tell three, well you see where I’m going with this.

Leave a review on Amazon. Reviews aren’t just there to stroke my own ego. Though I do get a warm fuzzy out of the good ones and take constructive feedback from the bad ones. Reviews, especially on Amazon, determine if a book disappears and fades away or continues to reach more people. Don’t just do it for me. Do it for any musician, writer, podcaster, artist, etc. that you love. It’s how creative work gets discovered.

Last thing you can do is buy it as a gift. While it is still 99 cents until 12/1/18, it’s a good deal to share the gift of laughter!

Finally, I got the title of my next book: The Robin Hood of Couches. A sci-fi, murder mystery, comedy.

Thank you all for your support. I appreciate it.

Xmas Elf Only 99 Cents

XMAS ELFGet Xmas Elf: Secret Agent for 99 cents from now till 12/1/18 (US and UK only). That’s not all, Time Burrito will also only be 99 cents too! Why fight the holiday crowds when you can buy everyone you know a kooky Christmas caper for a buck? Amazon has a buy for others button. All you need is their email address. Here’s the description:

As one of Santa’s Elite Fixers, Jing spends most of his time waterboarding greedy toy manufacturers or responding to terrorists holding Rudolph for ransom. While not on the job, he relaxes in the North Pole, a paradise where he can forget all the killing and bloodshed and curl up to some Christmas music and hot cocoa.

Until a rogue group of elves betrays Santa and threatens what should have been a pleasant Christmas.

Every time a bell rings, an elf gets his Glock.

Note: Use discretion for children under 13. There is a bit of violence in the book (no worse then what you can read in the first chapter).

Watch out for the sounds of sleigh bells in the distance this holiday season,

Christmas Is Here

XMAS ELFAnd we all know the old adage “Every time a bell rings, an elf gets his Glock.” This Christmas, get ready for a comedic romp through the underbelly of the holiday season where one elf learns that killing and torturing isn’t the only way to solve a problem. It will be available in paperback, audiobook, and kindle on Black Friday (11/23/18). Here’s a short description:

As one of Santa’s Elite Fixers, Jing spends most of his time waterboarding greedy toy manufacturers or responding to terrorists holding Rudolph for ransom. While not on the job, he relaxes in the North Pole, a paradise where he could forget all the killing and bloodshed and curl up to some Christmas music and hot cocoa.

Until a rogue group of elves betrays Santa and threatens what should have been a pleasant Christmas.

You can pre-order today! Thank you to all who helped me pick a cover! I appreciated all the feedback and considered all of it.

Also, did you remember to leave your review for Atmospheric Pressure 1 & 2? Reviews help out a whole bunch.

Last, but not very least, the first five stories of the Teristaque Chronicles will be on sale for 99 cents until 10/11/19 (US & UK only), and I’m also giving away the first story in the series for free in a group giveaway with many different authors giving their stuff away for free too.

Thank you for all of your support.

The Government Shutdown

     Day 1 – The government shut down today and unfortunately, I was still inside when it happened. My name was Russell and I was a low-level paperwork pusher. You’d figure in 2013, where you can pay for Starbucks with a smart phone, the government wouldn’t really need paperwork. Much less the sheer volume I dealt with on a daily basis. But this journal wasn’t about my job. It was about how I was stuck in a shut-down building. All the exits were locked. The security cameras were running but I was pretty sure the guy hired to watch them was furloughed. My cell service was Government Issue. They obviously saved $70 on a monthly plan. If we canceled 165 billion cell phone plans, we’d have the debt paid-off and maybe I could go home. Supposedly, even a cell phone without a plan could dial emergency services but I think the towers were Government Issue. No service anywhere in the building. The landlines were also down, even the internet. I wondered how close we were on that debt.

Coffee Pots

Coffee was a tradition at my work. It’s interesting how I didn’t really notice the social aspect to coffee. I felt alone when I sat down with a cup of coffee in an empty break room.

     Day 2 – You’d figure somebody would have checked on me. But I was assuming anyone who would come has been furloughed. Luckily enough, the power and the water came from the city or else there would be some smelly trashcans. I’ve calculated 242 mugs of coffee with cream and sweetener (anywhere from white sugar to green stevia). 563 mugs of hot water with cream and sweetener and 712 mugs of just hot water and sweetener before I run out of hot beverages. Though each of those numbers should be reduced by 1/3 because I usually have two mugs in the morning and one in the afternoon. Did I mention I was really good with numbers? Between the leftovers in the break room fridge, a food wheel (AKA Wheel of Death), candy machine, and soda machine, I probably only had a few days of real food, and probably two weeks of sugar disguised as food. Hopefully, the Affordable Care Act would cover my early onset diabetes.

     Day 3 – I was bored. At first, this was kind of fun. I was alone and free to explore. I pretty much had access to the first two floors, half of the third, and part of the basement. On every floor, there was the occasional locked door. I spent the second day digging through co-worker’s desks. I found some dirty little secrets. Ted spent money on flowers and gifts. The gifts were delivered to a woman who wasn’t his wife. My boss was skimming money from the government. She had expenses listed for office equipment but no actual office equipment. The cute girl, who worked three cubicles down, had a hunky boyfriend. And to think of all the conversations I wasted. There should be some rule to identify such important information early in the flirting process. And Gerald, he was exactly as boring as you think he is. No secrets.

Three Cubicles Down

This was Three Cubicles Down’s desk. I assumed the landscape pictures and calendar ready for 2014 was because she was adventurous, but when I found the picture of her and her boyfriend in the desk drawer, I had to question. Was it escape?

     Day 4 – I decided that four days was enough to be excused of a destruction of government property charge. I probably would have been excused much earlier but I always played it on the safe-side. For example, Three Cubicles Down: Boyfriends didn’t deter most guys but it deterred me. I figured if someone cheated to be with me, it would only be a matter of time before they cheated on me with someone else. I’d rather enter into a relationship with a clean slate. Of course, my last relationship didn’t end with a clean slate but there was no reason to jinx it from the beginning. But I digress; I tried to break the windows in the lobby today. They were tough. I smashed everything from a chair to the laser printer that I could barely carry, much less throw. I felt like I was in some sort of bizarre, modern, highland games. The printer shattered and the window held.

     Day 5 – I was fairly sure the government wouldn’t be back up anytime soon. So I had decided to ration the food. However, the coffee would last well beyond the food so I actually increased my intake of caffeine. I wondered if drinking more coffee was causing me to be so anxious. I was betting it was being trapped in a building for five fucking days. The windows were sturdy. I tried to bust out all of the exterior ones with no luck. So instead I wrote “trapped” on all the windows hoping somebody would swing by. There was no interior roof access. I was even desperate enough to set fire to my boss’s office. It was strangely satisfying as she was a micromanager. At any rate, I figured it would help her with the embezzlement wrap by destroying the evidence. I thought the flame would have the added bonus of starting the fire suppression system, which should alert the authorities. Instead, it burned and filled the second floor with smoke. Apparently, the fire sprinklers were furloughed. Luckily, the building was solid concrete, glass, and metal. I slammed the door to her office and the lack of oxygen eventually choked out the fire. For now, I was sticking to the ground floor tonight. The smell alone makes me want to throw up.

     Day 6 – I missed my parents. They lived out of state and I didn’t really talk to them much. But when I did, they seemed to make my troubles disappear. They got me through my last break up. At least enough to attempt speaking terms with Three Cubicles Down. But I never really talked with my folks otherwise. It wasn’t that I disliked them. I was living my life. I’d go to work. Played some online games, maybe streamed some television shows and repeated the process. I didn’t really have IRL friends-only the occasional party here and there. I invested so much into my last relationship. I didn’t really know what to do when I was on my own again. Once my parents convinced me that the world hadn’t ended, I didn’t call them back for the last few months. I didn’t know why. Things were going well. I wished I called my parents more often. They would come looking for me.

My food

The Wheel of Death is on the left. It was installed because people complained about not having healthy options. The “healthy options” turned out to be fruit doused in corn syrup and some “veggie” snacks with more cheese than carrot.

     Day 7 – I was drawing larger lettering for the word “trapped” in the lobby after my morning coffee when I saw the first person who wasn’t a photograph in somebody’s office or on a hard drive. I almost missed him because I thought that I was delusional. But he was real. The parking lot was empty and the trees were just beginning to turn. I took the bus to work the day I was trapped or else they would have seen my scooter and… This was embarrassing… but I was trapped because I nodded off on the toilet. I had an argument with my ex the night before all this happened. So I ate an entire bag of chips and a bottle of hot salsa from New Mexico. They take their heat seriously in New Mexico. I also drank two bottles of cheap wine, the kind with sulfates. Turned out the chips had gluten. I was gluten intolerant. Gluten wouldn’t kill me. It just caused digestive issues. So anyways, it was a trifecta of stomach ick and kept me awake much too late for a work night. Sleep deprivation and scooters were dangerous, especially when most people in my city drove pick-ups. So I played it safe and took the bus. Whoever closed shop on the first day locked me inside. If I only risked the scooter ride… Anyways, the parking lot had a lot of leaves because of the lack of gardening. In the middle of a swirl of leaves, a man stood in the parking lot. He wore a long, black overcoat, a baseball hat, and a pair of sunglasses. He stared expressionless at the building. I screamed and pounded on the glass. I slammed the chair and office equipment but he did not see me. Or least he didn’t change his expression. While I dug through the receptionist’s desk for an object to make some noise, he disappeared. The parking lot was empty except for the leaves dancing in the wind.

To continue reading, please download the kindle edition by clicking here.