In view of the upcoming holidays for gift-giving — Christmas, Chanukah, Yule, Kwanzaa, etc., I thought I'd post a few excerpts from my books to
whet your appetite.
The Displaced Detective Series is a science fiction mystery series in which the brilliant hyperspatial
physicist, Dr. Skye Chadwick, discovers that there are alternate realities, and said alternates are often populated by those we consider only literary characters. Her pet research, Project: Tesseract, hidden deep under Schriever AFB, is her means of looking in on these continua. In one particular reality, continuum 114, a certain Victorian detective (who, in fact, exists in several continua) was to have died along with his arch-nemesis at the Reichenbach Falls. Knee-jerking, Skye intervenes, rescuing her hero, who inadvertently flies through the tesseract wormhole connecting his universe with ours, while his enemy plunges to his death. Unable to send Holmes back without causing devastating continuum collapse due to non-uniqueness, he must stay in our world and learn to adapt to the 21st century.
So I thought I'd give you a taste of the start...
Prologue—Objects, Subjects, and Beginnings
A tall, dark figure, clad in formal Victorian eveningwear, strode briskly down the shadowed street, casually swinging his silver-embellished walking stick. No carriages had passed in the last half-hour, and only one hansom cab had wandered by ten minutes before, its horse’s hollow hoofbeats echoing between the buildings. The gas street-lamps were long since lit, but between them were patches of deep darkness, patches entirely too broad for comfort in these circumstances. Beneath the brim of his silk top hat, eagle-sharp grey eyes darted about, studying the shadows, alert and aware. For well this man knew that danger lurked in the gloom this night, danger peculiar to him alone; and he was alone. So very alone.
But not for long. He was headed to a specific destination. To the one man he knew he could trust, the one man who would stand at his side regardless of danger—for had he not done so, many times before? Was not this the reason for the deep, if largely unspoken, bond of friendship between them?
His friend would help. There was no doubt in his mind on that point. Already today two attempts had been made upon his life, and well did this man need help.
"Not far now," the words breathed past thin, pale lips. "Almost ther—"
The words died on said lips.
A hulking, brutish shadow materialised from the alleyway in front of him. The elegant man in the top hat ducked just in time to avoid the lead-weighted bludgeon that swung through the space his head had occupied fractions of a second before. Instead, the silk hat took the brunt of the blow, flying across the sidewalk and into a puddle in the gutter, its side crushed. Flinging up his cane and grasping each end in his hands, the gentleman dropped into an Oriental horse stance, and prepared to do battle.
"’Ere, now," the other figure said, in a coarse growl. "Hit’s th’ end o’ you, it is. Me superior won’t be ‘arvin’ it, an’ Oi means t’ see ‘e don’t ‘arve ta."
"You can try," the gentleman replied, calm. "But better men than you have tried, and here I stand."
A guttural, angry sound emerged from the assailant, and the cudgel swung again, this time with enough force to crush bone. Deft, the gentleman caught it with the center of his cane, but to his chagrin the walking-stick, his weapon of choice in many a similar street altercation, chose that moment to give up the ghost. It snapped in two, splintering and cracking. He snarled his own irritation, and flung the pieces aside when he realised there was not enough left to use as a decent weapon.
Then he began to flit and weave as the other man smirked and lunged at him, swinging the club repeatedly, as hard as he could. It was a dance of death, and one wrong move by the gentleman would have serious, possibly fatal, consequences.
But the man in the evening dress was not without weapons; no, his best weapons were permanently attached to his person. The alert grey eyes watched, looking for some opening; and when he saw his chance, he struck like lightning. A fist shot out at the loutish face, catching the hit man squarely in the mouth just as he realised his danger and started to shout for help. All that came out was a grunt, however, and the assassin fell to the pavement as if pole-axed, with both lips split.
The gentleman hissed in pain, grabbing his fist with his other hand for a moment to let the worst of the discomfort pass before examining the damage.
"By Jove, he has sharp teeth for such a troglodyte," he murmured, peeling off the ruined black kid glove to expose the bloody knuckles beneath. "Completely through the leather and into the flesh. I shall have to have this disinfected, for certain. No time for that now. Go, man!" He turned swiftly to resume his journey.
A crack resounded from the brownstone close at hand, and the man felt a spray of stone chips strike the side of his face. He flinched, and a sharp curse left his lips. He took to his heels and rounded the corner of the street, then disappeared into shadow.
* * *
Not ten feet away from the gentleman, though invisible to him, an elegant blonde woman in a white lab coat stood between tall, electronic towers. Behind her, concentric rows of computer consoles were manned by two dozen scientists, engineers, and technicians. Surrounding all of them was a huge, domed room carved from solid pink granite.
The woman stood for long minutes, silent, watching.
Finally one of the technicians broke the electronic silence.
"So, Doc, whaddaya think?"
"What do you think, Jim? How were the readings?" The woman turned toward him.
"I’ve got bang-on, Dr. Chadwick," Jim noted, glancing down at his own console, brown eyes darting about as he surveyed his readouts. "But I can’t say for everybody else."
"Rock steady at Timelines," someone else called.
"Sequencing looks good…" another said.
"Software’s running nominally."
"Hardware’s humming right along…"
On it went, from console to console. Finally the woman nodded.
"Perfect," she purred in deep satisfaction. "We’ve got our subject. Page Dr. Hughes and have her come down."
"On it, Doc," Jim grinned, reaching for the phone.
This is book 1 of the series! Four are already published, with more on the way!
For more, or to purchase this and more books in the series, go to my website, www.stephanie-osborn.com or find it on Amazon. Or to purchase The Case of the Displaced Detective Omnibus, consisting of the first four books, go here.
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by Stephanie Osborn
In Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281, Dr. Mike Anders buys a small spaceman fetish from a Zuni elder at a trading post. But there's a story behind this little lapis spaceman carving. What is it, and how did it come to be?
An ebook short prequel to Burnout.
The young Zuni listened carefully to his medicine man as he prepared to set out upon his journey.
“This is the time,” James Running Horse told his pupil. “It is midsummer, when the Twins come to the mountaintops. Yes, the Twins,” he nodded, seeing
young Vernon White Owl opening his mouth to speak. “The Beloved Two. If you are to continue being my apprentice, you must have their approval. Only then will you truly become my son and heir, and all
my secrets will be given to you.”
“But how will I know them?” Vernon asked, worried.
“You will know them,” James said, firm but gentle. “They are like none you have ever seen before.”
“Look.” James swept his arm across the wall of the canyon in which they camped. “Study these drawings. The drawings of the Ancient Ones, the Anasazi. They have faded much in just the years I have known them; they must have been beautiful, detailed things when first they were made. But if you keep them in memory, you will know the Beloved Twins when you see them.”
Vernon stared at the ancient paintings, trying to affix their details in his memory. All were tall; some had broad bodies, others narrow. All had two protrusions, like insect antennae, or fox ears, or mushrooms, on the top of the head. They all had two prominent arms, but not all appeared to have feet. Some seemed to have tails like snakes instead. In their current condition, and to Vernon's untrained eye, it was impossible to tell whether they were coming or going, although none of them were painted in profile.
“Will they both come?” Vernon wondered. “Áhaiyúta and Mátsailéma?”
“Not necessarily,” James murmured, as at last the hint of a smile came to his tanned, wizened face. “They are busy, and they often follow the
entrails of Átahsaia across the sky, the grey, ugly demon who once ate our people, to ensure that he does not somehow regenerate. They protect us still.”
A full smile finally cracked the dark, weathered skin. “Ah, that is what you are here to find out!” James said. “Now, you have been through the preparation, a special medicine preparation I have made sure was as complete as possible, and tomorrow is what the white men call the solstice. It is an important time – a time of vision. You have a few hours before sundown; just sufficient to climb to the peak yonder.” He pointed at the mountaintop at the head of the canyon. “You are as ready as you will ever be; as ready as I can make you. Go. I will await you here, however long it takes. You will know when your quest is ended.”
Vernon nodded. He stripped to his skin, leaving his clothing and shoes behind with his mentor, and set off alone toward the peak. The only thing he
carried was his whittling knife, on a thong around his neck.
* * *
That night, Vernon was exceedingly glad that it was the summer solstice, for the wind on the mountain peak was chilly even so. He found the small cave, really little more than a notch in the peak, that the vision questers of his people had used for generations, and settled in for the night, although he had his doubts that he would be able to sleep. It had been a long walk, and the last hundred yards of the climb had been arduous; he was sweating profusely, and very tired. Nevertheless, he was growing cold as the sweat on his skin chilled in the breeze. He huddled near the back of the cave and tried to stay out of the wind, knowing he was going to be even more miserable very soon.
Eventually, in the arid air of the high desert, his bare skin dried, and he felt somewhat warmer, although, he decided, that was relative. The sky
was crystal clear, a deep blue so dark that it was almost, but not quite, black, and millions of diamonds twinkled across it. But he knew that beautiful, clear skies meant colder nights. He curled
himself into a tight ball against the rock, thankful for the daytime heat that still radiated from its rough, sandy surface, and waited.
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Sooner or later, he knew, I will sleep, or I will have a vision. Or both.
I got an email alert from Dr. Wooze that we had a Geo-Storm on Sunday morning. It was pretty obvious on the GOES chart...then I realized that I was
"speaking in tounges" as far as my co-workers were concerned. I guess a lot of the stuff on SOLARHAM.COM is a bit esoteric to the non-solar guy.
What the Heck is GOES? (they probably didn't capitalize it, but hey, I'll give them partial credit.) GOES are a series of satellites that happen to be pretty much at the top of the Earth's magnetic field. They dip in around 100 nano Tesla, which is life at 36,000 km altitude. How small is 100 nT? well, a bar magnet for kids is around .001 Tesla... so about 1 million nanoTesla.K? If you were out in space, you wouldn't know you had a magnetic field if you didn't have a Gauss detector hanging off the side of your ship. (Yeah, like one of the GOES satellites.)
Ok, so the figure below, which is stolen from SOLARHAM.COM - shows a HUGE dip from 100 down to a gnat's butt off 0. Ok, so that is prime evidence of a Geomagnetic storm.
So they asked. (ok, I kind of prompted this question) "So, why does it get less when there is a storm? I mean, a storm seems like a get worse thing, and this is a get better thing?" Ok, so their questions wasn't well stated but it really comes down to - HUH?
Right, so this is what is happening. The Earth's Geomagnetic Field gets stretched out behind the Earth like a rubber band. Electric charge gets caught in that rubber band, and when there is a storm, the rubber band snaps back. The cute part about a magnetic field is that as you stuff more charge in, the field shrinks and gets more intense.
So, if you are deep in the Geomagnetic Field, you can measure the field getting stronger, but if you are on the edges, it seems to get weaker - since it is shrinking away from you.
So, if you are reading SOLARHAM.COM and you see the GOES Geomagnetic field drop suddenly, it probably indicates that there is a Geomagnetic storm taking place, but the GOES satellite is ... above the clouds (figuratively speaking).
by Stephanie Osborn
My first science fiction mystery was Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281, a techno-thriller about a Space Shuttle disaster that turns out to be no accident. As the true scope of the conspiracy is gradually uncovered by the principal investigators, "Crash" Murphy and Dr. Mike Anders, they find themselves running for their lives, as lovers, friends and coworkers involved in the investigation perish around them. What happened to the Shuttle? Who is responsible for the disaster and why? Why is the government calling it an accident? Why is someone willing to kill to keep it a secret? And how big is
"Nice spread you got here," Bob Wright, Tracy's husband, told Crash a bit later, glancing around the green, gently rolling hills of the small ranch in the dwindling light while they all ate homemade peach ice cream for dessert. A soft lowing sound came from the upper pasture, as one member of Crash's small herd of cattle expressed itself in the quiet twilight. A sorrel quarterhorse gelding ate hay from the ground in the run-in of the little stable nearby; the crunching sounds he made were soothing, adding to the peaceful ambiance of the evening. "The Brenham area's far enough out from Houston that you don't even get much light pollution, but it's still not an unreasonable drive in to JSC if you don't have to do it every day."
"Yeah," Crash remarked, looking fondly around the little ranch that he called home these days. "I was lucky to get my hands on it. Been all over the world—Southeast Asia, the Mideast, Europe, Russia, Japan, most of the fifty States—but around here is still home. I don't worry too much ‘bout the drive in to Houston, either. I do most of my commuting by computer these days."
"That must be nice," Tracy remarked enviously. "Some days, it's all I can do to haul it out in the morning. Especially after a long shift on console. ‘Morning' being relative during a mission, anyway."
Crash nodded his vehement agreement. "That's exactly what I mean. See, there's days now when I get up, saddle up one of the horses, throw my laptop in a saddlebag, and just go. No walls, no phones ringin', no interruptions. Just me, my horse, the outdoors—and the damn laptop, of course." He grinned ruefully and glanced over at the released Flight Director, who was crouched in front of the cable television hookup Crash had strung out to the patio, intently watching the broadcast from JSC. "How we doin' on time, Ham?"
"Might wanna kill the lights, Crash," Ham replied, concentrating on the telecast.
"Wilco, Flight." Crash grinned again, flipping the outside wall switch. Overhead, the sky was a deep, rich, star-spangled Prussian blue; along the western horizon could be seen the faintest hint of deep teal. "Lessee..." he glanced at the TV, to the ground track Mission Control was displaying on the big front screen, then looked at the night sky, trying to correlate the two. "She oughta show up... somewhere over in there." He waved a hand heavenward, in a vaguely northwestern direction.
Conversation in the back yard of the ranch house ceased as everyone clustered together in the darkness, searching the west-northwestern sky. The only artificial illumination came from the TV screen, and the NASA Public Affairs Office Commentator could be heard in the background as he delivered general remarks about the landing.
"...and this is a somewhat unusual re-entry pattern over North America, due to the successful efforts to retrieve the multi-million-dollar Next Generation Tethered Satellite, dubbed NexGen or NTS, which was co-manifested on STS-281 with the Mission to Planet Earth payload, Gaia-1. This nighttime landing will make for spectacular observations by residents of California, Nevada, southern Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Coastal residents of the Gulf States may also be able to observe..."
"Hey, big brother," Jimmy remarked curiously, "isn't the commander of this flight an old friend of yours?"
"Yup," Crash replied, still scanning the star-strewn, blue-black sky. "Lawrence Jackson. Jet. He and I flew in the same squadron in ‘Nam. Been buddies ever since. There's almost nothing we wouldn't do for each other—except give up a slot in the astronaut corps." Crash pulled a wry face.
"Yeah, that's right," Ham Carter remembered. "He beat you out for the slot, didn't he?"
"Uh-huh, he did—only because Jackson comes before Murphy in the alphabet."
"Look! There it is!" Sally cried excitedly, pointing into the western sky, and all but jumping up and down. "Crash! Isn't that it?" she asked her brother-in-law enthusiastically.
"Yeah, Sally, I—" Crash did a double take and looked carefully at the blazing spark as it shot through the black velvet sky, then gave an equally quick glance at Hamilton Carter. "Ham, have they got a re-entry DTO on this flight?"
"No, Crash—I see it, too," Ham replied tightly, forehead creasing with worry. "Listen... can I use—"
"Cell phone right here," Crash scooped the instrument off the corner of the picnic table and shoved it into Carter's hands as he looked back up. "Damn, Jet, get it in gear, old buddy!" he exclaimed with increasing concern.
"What's wrong, Crash? What's happening?" Jimmy asked his suddenly worried brother, as the flaming speck, growing larger and larger, flew almost directly overhead. Smaller sparks could now be seen peeling off the main object.
"Dammit! Jet, flare out, man! Shit! Break it out! NOW!!" Crash began shouting into the sky. Tracy, the "fourth team" relief FAO, was frozen, staring upward in shock, and Ham stood stiffly, head tilted back, listening silently to the cell phone he held to his ear. They all watched dumbly as the white-hot streak shot by overhead and disappeared behind the house, trailing flaming sparks in its wake.
Crash ran around the house to the front, trying to keep the airborne conflagration in view, and the others followed. "Damn, Jimmy, she's comin' in hot," he belatedly answered his little brother. "Jet's not bleeding off velocity in the roll reversals like he's supposed to..." Crash paused, horrified. "Not that it looks like it would do much good, anyway..."
The gathered celebrants watched in stunned disbelief as the fireball plunged toward the southeastern horizon, flickered, and burned out.<< MORE >>
Before I forget - Dr. Woosley reminded me to support Solar Ham. This site is basically always on my desktop. I stare at the sun a lot. Look, it is
important for my work. Watching the flares, coronal events, etc. Just seeing what the velocity of the solar wind and the Ap of the Geomagnetic field ... well ... for me it is like checking the
traffic and weather every morning.
Support the site. He's giving away an awesome framed picture... grumble... durn kids keep needing fed.
Frankly you have heard about such things for years, without being told what the heck you were supposed to be afraid of. Short answer - nothing
Here is a prime example of a risk that made everyone in the radiation business crazy for a few days. Thieves car-jacked a transport of Co60 between the hospital and the storage facility. It has been recovered, but it was a worry for a few days. Thieves have not been found, but I hope they get medical treatment soon.
Cobalt 60 is a created material. It has a half-life of around 5 years (5.27) and decays into a perfectly normal Nickel isotope. If you have a Co60 problem, leave it alone for a couple decades and it goes away. It is created by bombarding normal cobalt metal with slow neutrons, a percentage of the Co59 gets transformed to Co60 - depending on a whole bunch of very boring variables, and a precentage turns back into Ni60. You do some math and at some point you pull the Cobalt metal out of the reactor or Californium source, or whatever, and put it into a Co60 machine - which is either in a pool of water or a lead box.Since Co60 produces a lovely spectrum of 1 MeV (or call it 1000 keV) gamma rays, we usually call them Gamma cells.
This is a picture of a pool with a Co60 source at the bottom. Safe as roses to be up here, but when the pulley drags the source out of the water, well, you'd get dead pretty quick. Which is kind of the problem with stealing gamma cells.
As a comparison, everybody has had a dental x-ray. They run from 20 - 100 keV. So at minimum, the gamma cell is 10 times hotter than a dental x-ray. The technicians wear lead coats to keep the exposure to a minimum, they do a couple dozen shots a day. Maybe a minute or two of exposure, total. Frankly, it was shown that x-rays will give you cancer - by Marie Curie - but she had hundreds of hours of exposure, with no shielding.
Gamma cells are hotter than x-ray machines, so don't play with them without training. Certainly don't put them in the back of your car and drive around for a few days. And don't eat any of the pellets. That is all stupid-dangerous. If you are of the mind to do that, stay away from scissors and other deadly apparatus. (Eating scissors is also bad for you.)
Dirty bombs are what scare the normal folk, that some crazy would blow up a gamma cell, irradiating miles of landscape with "deadly radiation." Yeah, pretty over rated. Mostly, radioactive materials - when blown up with simple explosive - are not much different than anything else. Yeah, it could take a few days to clean up and you probably want to protect yourself from exposure if you are going to be handling it a lot, but not really worth "fearing."
picture 9/11 families for a Safe & Strong America
I mean, a BOMB can kill you. If a terrorist is setting off a bomb, that is scary. So are terrorists shooting guns, or flying planes into buildings. Ok, lets set that - 9/11- as a Scale = 10. Scale = 0 is a bearded guy yelling scary Arabic words at you.Where should a dirty bomb fall?
The bomb part could still take down a building, with people in it. An act by itself which could theoretically be an 8 or 9) SO, for arguments sake, lets let the dirty bomber blow up the mall at midnight, after the janitors leave, with a Co60 dirty bomb. The mall is ruined and it is a few months of clean up to get back to a parking lot. We'll call that a 3 for 20 million dollars of property damage and zero casualties.What does the "dirty" add to the "bomb." Physically? It means that the cleaners will have to wear protective gear, which multiplies time required by a factor of 4. SO, it would mean that the mall was out of action for a year. (and that you would have to endure a year's screaming from ignorant media about the "deadly attack" even if it didn't kill anyone) I mean, it doesn't add a casualty, so I'd leave it pretty much a 3. In my book, the lone gunman with 1 kill is a lot scarier than 40 million in damages, but maybe somebody would say differently.
Dirty bombs are only effective at making people stay out of areas. This is good for "site denial" attacks, such as shutting down an important bridge and costing people a lot of money. This is good for "Fear" tactics, so long as the media is a bunch of ignorant savages. Frankly, guns are more frightening - if you don't own one.
Here's another little treat for my fans! This is an excerpt from my first children's book, StarSong. It is intended for students from advanced 3rd grade to 7th grade. (But I've had adults telling me they liked it, too!) It's a fantasy, blending elements of Native American lore, European fairytales, and a hint of Tolkienian influence.It's available in Kindle and print, and purchase links can be found on my website, along with more information about the book.
In the Far West, in a cheerful little farming village in the midst of a broad, green plain of great and unknown size, lived a girl. She had long, beautiful dark
hair, big, sparkling bright eyes, and a smile that made people happy just to see it. Her name was StarSong, because she loved to sing to the heavens at night, and her voice was, so the villagers
said, as beautiful as the stars themselves.
As she grew older, however, she became aware of her beauty, for all the young men began to court her. And she knew she had a lovely voice, for everyone said so.
Thus her thoughts turned inward. But where the mind goes, the gifts follow. Therefore, so, too, did her songs, which became all about herself. She became vain and self-centered. Her dresses always
had to be colorful and adorned with embroidery, her hair elaborately braided, and her songs were always sung from the flat, patio rooftop of her home so that the entire village could hear.
"Creator has greatly blessed you," her father would tell her. "You should sing for Him."
"No," StarSong would reply defiantly. "I will sing what I please." And she did, singing every night of her own beauty and worth.
This had gone on for many years, since she became a teenager, and as she grew older, near the time of marrying, her worried parents despaired.
"StarSong’s vanity grows worse each day," her mother wept. "Now, none of the young men of our village are good enough for her, according to her. And they are all
becoming tired of being spurned by her, and they are marrying other girls. The other girls scorn her, for she scorns them first. She will soon be left alone. And she has refused to learn the skills
needed to fend for herself. She is ‘too good for such as that,’ she says."
"I know," said her father sadly.
"Now she is even saying that the village is beneath her," the mother cried. "She desires to go elsewhere, where the life is more exciting, and more befitting her
"I know," her father said again, even more sadly.
"What did we do wrong?" Starsong’s mother wailed with grief and guilt. "How could our lovely child become so self-centered and vain? What did we do?"
"Nothing, my dear," Starsong’s father said wisely, taking his wife into his arms and comforting her. "Every person must make choices, once they are old enough to
understand them. Our young StarSong has chosen, and there is nothing that we could have done differently. We must pray that, someday, Creator teaches her different choices."
And so day followed day, each the same. StarSong sang her own melody, growing more and more self-absorbed, and her parents prayed.
Until one day, when a black speck appeared on the western horizon. It grew swiftly as it fast approached the little village, eating up the sky with darkness as it
went. Soon the villagers started to run, screaming in terror.
For it was a giant, spinning windstorm, black and angry, such as none of them had ever seen before, and it overtook the little town in seconds. The villagers, their animals, even their houses, disappeared in the horrible storm, which tore the very grass from the earth. Terrified, poor StarSong stood, frozen to the ground, her normally beautiful voice raised in an ugly scream of fear, until the whirling storm was upon her, and she, too, was swept away.
I am going to die! the poor girl thought in horrified despair as she felt the ground disappear beneath her. I shall never have the chance to have my beauty looked upon, or my voice heard, by those who are worthy to enjoy them.
Far, far, over tree and stream, poor frightened StarSong was carried high in the air for a long, long time, expecting each moment to be her last. Finally the
whirlwind beneath her began to weaken and fade.
Oh, no, she thought in horror. Now I shall be dashed in pieces upon the ground, far below. She hadn’t thought it possible, but if anything, that thought left StarSong even more frightened than before.
But instead, she drifted down like a feather, floating along, until she landed gently atop a high, steep mountain with a flat top. StarSong sang in relief.
"I’m safe! Safe, safe, safe!
Down I shall climb,
Be home by bedtime,
And no longer be a waif!"
But her glad relief soon turned into worry, for StarSong could find no way down. The flat top of the mountain was small, and the mountain’s sides were sheer cliffs, made up of odd columns of rock, and there was no way for her to climb down. She was trapped atop the mountain.
As the sun went down in the west, and the stars came out, little StarSong — feeling very little, indeed — sat down on the ground. But instead of singing, she cried.
I hope you enjoyed it! I loved writing it! I think it would make a wonderful holiday gift for the kids in your life!
The More Things Change is another of my ebook shorts. This one might be termed a novelette. The promo blurb runs,
Griblich and his family are happily ensconced in the Village, a settlement of The People, who are offshoots of The Founders. Their lives are peaceful and pastoral as they hunt and gather and play beneath their lovely red sun and green skies, and love and sleep by the light of their moons. But as Griblich is fond of saying, "Wait awhile, and everything will change."
And it always does...
So sit back and enjoy.
Chapter 1 ―The Beginning
"Oh, for the energy of youth!" he told his wife with a half-smile quirking one corner of his mouth.
"Hush that," Bihune smacked him with one ofher front limbs, retracting her claws lest she hurt him. "Here, eat." She handed him a plate of greens. "Children, meal time!" she called, and their offspring galloped toward them, their stubby little eight legs taking them as fast as they could go. "Besides," she added to Griblich, "you know better, and I know better. You hardly lacked energy last night." She threw him a broad grin, all three lips parting wide to show her teeth as her multiply-faceted eyes sparkled. She waved her sensory bristles at him suggestively. He chuckled in return, and waved his own bristles right back at her.
"Well, I do have the most beautiful wife in the Village," he proclaimed as their six children gathered around to eat. He surveyed the lavish spread before them. "You did wellin gathering today, love. That looks delicious. Maybe tomorrow we can make a fresh kill together and have something to eat besides salad."
"Salad is good, Daddy," little Biblich murmured around a mouthful of food. "I like salad."
"There's my baby girl." Bihune smiled again. "But knowing Birglah, he wants meat."
"Well, salad is okay," Birglah decided, chewing thoughtfully. "But a nice fresh steak is better."
"You know Daddy's saying," Loblich interjected. "'If you just wait long enough, everything changes.'"
They all laughed.
* * *
And it did. Some days the hunt was good, and The People had steak with their salad, and fresh,
clean water from the nearby sacred Spring around which the Village was situated. Other days the hunt was less so, and fresh salad was the order of the day. But the plants along the Spring, near which Griblich's home was situated, were lush and plentiful and varied, and no one ever went hungry or became malnourished. And the children grew.
Until the rains stopped.
* * *
As the drought deepened, the temperatures rose. The normally pale green skies turned a hard orange and grew hazy as dust rose into the air. The herds that provided part of the Village's food migrated elsewhere. Unfortunately, no one knew where "elsewhere" was.
But worse, theSpring's output began to decrease, and as it did, the vegetation around it wilted, then turned brown and died. Finally the flow stopped altogether, and the pools and puddles left behind began to dry up.
"I'm hungry, Father," Biblich murmured. "No food today, either."
"Yeah," Burglah agreed. "I'd take a salad today, for sure."
"I'm sorry, children," Griblich told his brood with a heavy heart. "Your mother and I ranged even farther afield than you did, and could find nothing."
"Are we going to die?" Loblich,their youngest, wondered, afraid.
"No, no," Griblich protested, soothing his little one. "No fear of that. Wait long enough and everything changes. But I am beginning to think the Elders are right..." He waved his bristles in deep thought.
"Time to oversleep, you mean?" Bihune wondered, waving her own in sympathetic vibrations.
"Yes. Yes, I think so," Griblich decided. "Come, children. Let us go to the cave."
* * *
So, deep inside their shelter, in oversleep, neither Griblich's family, nor the rest of The People of the
Village ever knew when the wildfire swept through and obliterated what was left of the Village itself, taking their homes with it. The skies went from orange to black with smoke in its aftermath.
But when the rains began, and the water started to drip from the ceiling of their cave, the entire family awoke. Griblich stretched, then hobbled stiffly over to the cave entrance.
"Dear?" Bihune asked, as all the children looked on, bristles quivering in anxiety. Griblich took his time surveying their surroundings.
"There has been a fire," he noted calmly. "We shall likely have to rebuild. But things are greening up. The Spring is running again, and the herds have returned. Let's go," he declared.
They went out in search of their friends and neighbors, ravenously grabbing a bite here and there from edible plants along the way.
Thus ends Chapter 1 of The More Things Change. Currently it is only available for Kindle, but it can be purchased here.
-Stephanie Osborn<< MORE >>