Excerpt: El Vengador

El Vengador is my first venture into paranormal horror.

Deputy Sheriff Michael Kirtchner gets an “unknown disturbance” dispatch call to a remote house trailer in the swamp. There, he discovers an old woman and a dog, terrorized by a mysterious beast, which he takes to be a bear. But when he contacts Game Warden Jeff Stuart to come trap the animal, Stuart tells him to get out if he values his life – this is no ordinary animal. Is Kirtchner up against a Swamp Ape – a Florida version of Bigfoot – or something more…sinister?

Based on a true story.

My recommendation? Don’t read this at night.

-Stephanie Osborn


Elsie Moore ungracefully mopped her perspiring brow on the hem of her dress, then continued cooking her dinner on the tiny gas stovetop. A small pot on the back burner bubbled merrily, releasing a spicy smell as white grains of rice, gradually turning a greenish-tan, churned up. As a waft of strong skunk smell drifted through the tiny trailer kitchen from the open window, she wrinkled her nose and stared down in distaste at the skillet containing crawfish and boudin noir while poking at it with a spatula.

The foul odor from outside was not helping her opinion of her ingredients. She wasn’t fond of blood sausage in the first place, but it had been cheap, and she didn’t get into town much for groceries, so she made do. Being unemployed, she wasn’t overmuch blessed with cash and didn’t have a vehicle, so she was forced to depend upon distant friends for a ride to town, or more often, she just walked ― which ended up taking the better part of a day. So inexpensive and quick to get hold of were the rules of the house. The crawfish had come from a Cajun friend who lived up the bay. She wasn’t Cajun, nor was she from one of the local Native tribes, but she knew people in both communities, and they looked after her when they could; she was a fairly skilled herbal healer, and had been known to treat strangers more than once. Abruptly the skunk stench increased to nearly intolerable volumes, and she turned away from the stove, covered her nose with her free hand, and fought back a nearly unbearable urge to retch.

“Damn,” she cursed. “Ah’m gonna have ta git somethin’ done ‘bout that skunk den, an’ soon, don’t Ah’m gonna end th’ summer unable t’ eat nothin’ f’r the stink. It ‘uz bad enough in th’ spring when they moved in, but now it’s hot, Ah gotta keep th’ winners open, ‘r suffocate…” Her German shepherd let out a long whine from somewhere in the back yard, and she yelled out the window. “BILLY! HUSH! Ah ain’t got time f’r that racket!”

She returned her attention to her makeshift excuse for jambalaya ― not, she thought, that it would amount to much without any celery or bell pepper, but at least she’d found some wild onions that morning ― and tried to ignore the smell coming in from outside, and which was threatening to spoil her appetite for good. A buzzer sounded, and she reached up to turn off the timer, then put a lid on the pot of seasoned rice, switching off the burner to let the dish soak up the extra liquid and finish cooking on its own.

By the time the crawfish were cooked, the rice was ready. It was early for dinner, but Elsie’s day started early, out the door before full dawn, wild-crafting edibles to eke out her meager supplies of food and gather herbs for medicinals.
The sixty-three year old widow of ten years and three grown-and-departed children dumped the tiny pot of rice into a plate, then upended the skillet’s contents on top. Fishing a bent-tined fork from a drawer, she moved into the den, sat in her favorite chair, and began to eat. After a few minutes, she grabbed the battered remote control and turned on the television. Static and snow greeted her from that appliance, and she reached for another control, fiddling with it until the dish outside had picked up another satellite. The picture was still fuzzy and staticky, but at least she could see and hear the broadcast. Then she settled back with her meal to watch a series of game shows.

Halfway through her meal, Billy, her German shepherd, came to the front door, pawing and scratching as he whined.

“NO, Billy!” she told the dog. “Ah’ll let ya in at sundown, no sooner, an’ yew kin curl up onna foot o’ th’ bed like usual. Y’re s’posed ta be a guard dawg, not mah pet, even iffen ya are mah onlies’ real friend. Jus’ settle down! What’s got inta yew today, no how?”

The dog whined and scratched harder.

“GIT!” she called. There was a scrambling sound on the wooden stoop, then Billy ran around to the back yard, where he began to bark like a fool. “Damn dog.”

All of a sudden Billy began to yelp, loud, high-pitched sounds like a dog in pain, or maybe in terror. This mingled with a low growling sound, and unexpectedly the trailer filled with a horrible, intolerable stench. Elsie shoved her half-empty plate onto the end table, grabbed the nearby plastic waste can, and threw up her dinner. Before she could even wipe her mouth, a deafening clamor sounded right outside, and the trailer shook. Billy let out a kind of canine scream, and this was followed and drowned out by an animal roar of rage. The trailer shook again. Elsie shot to her feet.

“BILLY!” she cried, alarmed. “Billy! What’s wrong, puppy-dog? Whatcha got treed?” She ran to the nearest window and looked out. She saw nothing. The trailer shook again. She looked down.

Practically beneath her, pressed up against the back wall of the trailer, was the hind end of some very large, powerful, furry creature. The color was an odd, ticked shade of browns and blacks, mottled with blotches of livid green. A roaring howl, which seemed to come from beneath her, fairly made her guts vibrate. She watched the animal’s hindquarters tense, and the trailer shook yet again. Just then, Billy let out a pitiful yip… and was silent.


El Vengador is based on a true story. Yes, there really was a deputy sheriff in the Pensacola, FL area who really did answer a call just like this.

Care to see what happens next? Have a look.
-Stephanie Osborn

Sea Level Measurement – Stuff I didn’t know

I regret that I didn’t know this. Yes, I actually used the Earth Gravitational Model in my previous employment. (I re-wrote GRAVE which is an orbital predictor that was used by NASA back a gazillion years ago and I did a lot of environmental trajectory analysis with Dr. Powell) In any case, I was familiar with all the crudola that goes into orbital perturbations, but I hadn’t realized it made a huge difference on land. See the video below. three minute physics for the win.

Party Idea for Dragon Con (or some other con)

I am thinking of organizing a Space Pirate Amazon Ninja Catgirl party for an up-coming con. Probably Dragon Con, if I can arrange a suite in the Hilton. Tell me what you all think… Obviously there will be a contest for best costume, for both Catgirls and Poolboys. We’ll play some Steve Jackson Games and have a particularly evil punishment for a drink foul. I think I’ll call it a “nuclear party foul.” (reference to Schlock Mercenary Included)

Climate and Human Civilization

Climate and Human Civilization

I don’t post this as any kind of an argument for or against global warming. This poster by Andy May proports to show the climate throughout human history. I find the map comparison and the dates/climates at those dates very interesting. I hope you are interested as well.

As a bit of perspective – the difference between the last big ice age – glaciers and what-not – and today is only about 9 degrees Celcius. Given what we now call the 0 point, the Ice Age was at -8 degrees C, and we are at present around +0.5. Once, about 125,000 years ago, the temperature went from -8 C to + 3 C and back to -7 C over a period of … it looks like 10 to 20 thousand years. SLOW changes, but pretty dramatic from the human perspective. We’re near a peak, and could be looking at a thousand years of cooling temperatures. (Of course, that could be after a thousand years of rising temperatures. It is hard to figure these 25,000 year cycles as they apply to 18,000 years of human history. I suggest looking at it, it is a very interesting poster.

Wide-Open Interview

Hey guys, Stephanie Osborn here. Hawk gave me permission to do a bit of shameless self-promotion here, right before the holidays. Reason? Lots of you folks read, and I’ve written lots of stuff to be read. Anyway, y’all know that I’m a rocket scientist, astronomer, and writer, but maybe you don’t know much more about me. So I wanted to post a link to what ended up being the longest and widest-ranging print interview I’ve ever done, in case you wanted to know more about me than what you could find out reading here, or looking over my website.

Shiny Book Review has reviewed 4 of 5 of my books, and in general has seemed to like them, whether fiction or non-fiction, and when they asked if they could interview me, I was glad to do so. The interview came out this evening, and I thought I’d stick up a link here. 
So here you go, more about me than you ever thought about. 

Something New – National Novel Writing Month


A lot of you are writers. I’ve seen work from Dr. DNA and many others – but not a lot of them have seen the light of day. Since this is November – and a traditional writing month. I’m suggesting that you all put out samples of your work.

Now, some of us are better than others and more importantly, some of us are published. My good friend Stephanie Osborne is going to treat us to some samples of her published novels, novellas, and possibly a short story. This should be a lot of fun. Given that will drive my hits up and assuming that the website runs to 10’s of thousands of hits a month…do you want your short writing out there? 

I’d be happy to help, and will put out up to 5,000 words of whatever you think you’ve done well. Maybe yes? Maybe No? well, think about it.  Steph is pushing me to put “more stuff out there” … so I’m thinking about it. PurePoison is a couple chapters in, so maybe I’ll think about one of the scenes…

Please Give Generously

Red Cross

I understand that there has been some inflation of the basic damage numbers. This is to be expected in general disaster circumstances, but has been used to generate an AGW fight. I’m not interested. This is a disaster that has killed over a thousand people and left tens of thousands homeless. If you can help, do so. If you are – like me, overburdened with current bills and life circumstances – please take a moment, now, to say a prayer for those who are in hunger and want. A day without food is far harder than our cushy life leads us to believe. There are those that may not have food or shelter – in the driving rain and humid sun – for more than a week. God help them, and God help us to remember what is truly important. The lives of our fellow humans. Thank you for your time.

Black Holes as Dark Matter

Synopsis: Planet Search Finds No Dark Matter Black Holes

This is a traditional “lack of evidence” report, which is consistent with our current knowledge. I.E. no evidence of a ton of little black holes out there. By little I mean “planet or moon massed.” This doesn’t mean that space doesn’t have a lot of those black holes, but not sufficient to replicate the dark matter theories.

Does this kill my “dark matter is black holes” theory? Nope. I was aiming for microscopic black holes. Even a mass of 6e24 kg (earth sized) is a small black hole – about a centimeter across. Yeah. The Schwarzchild Radius RS seems to scale linearly-ish with mass – so something 7 steps of mass smaller than Earth would be 7 steps in size smaller. So the sizes of black holes we are looking for are from 10 micrometers to 10 angstroms. (Yeah, you couldn’t really fit normal light INTO that hole for it to try to escape.  Still, these microscopic black holes would weigh from a low of around a trillion tons to a high of … like a moon.

Think about it. An invisible object – so small that it was literally invisible – would weigh as much as a mountain.

Well, we haven’t found any of those, and I’m not sure how we’d know it if we found them, but if we still need dark matter at the end of the equation of the universe, it is probably hiding out there.

dark matter