Monday, February 27, 2017

In Dreams (Again).

(This was my dream last night. The opening sounds like a joke.)

Three huge Neanderthal men walked into a tipi-village of ancient humans.

The visitors were not pleased. In fact, they were upset about something. The humans had obviously encountered these three guys before and knew them. The three were loud, rude, and were pushing people around. They wanted to see the humans’ chief.

One human—a hunter/warrior—complained about their rudeness and challenged them to cool off. At that, one of the Neanderthals ripped his head off. Twisted it off, actually. There was lots of red blood. Some of it splashed onto their orange ruddy beards.

They insisted on seeing the chief, and they were going to go into his tipi if he didn’t appear. But the chief was very sick. When it looked like the Neanderthals were going to enter his tent, the chief’s personal bodyguards appeared. These guards were a trio of very tiny women about three feet tall dressed in black bear fur and carrying finely carved flint knives.

The leader of the guards looked up at the massive Neaderthal brutes and she said, “Ohshitohshitohshit”. But she was going to do her job and protect the chief. She pulled her big, finely worked flint knife from its sheath. The other two tiny women guards followed suit.

(And this is when it got REALLY weird, as dreams do.)

Just then, someone recalled that a wandering giant had entered the encampment in the night, drunk on his ass, and had passed out on the ground. Someone woke him up and pointed at the Neanderthals who were threatening them. The giant glared at the Neanderthals, sat up (that act alone made him taller than the Neanderthal men) and he grabbed the first one and used him as a bludgeon to beat the other two to the ground. After that, he proceeded to mash their bearded faces into the earth until all three were out cold. The ground shook with each impact.

And then he giant fell back and returned to his drunken stupor.

(And that was my dream.)

"Bring your leader to us."

Sunday, February 26, 2017

When They're Gone.

About two weeks after my dad died I was hiking home from visiting a friend. I was passing an old wooded canal that had once been important to the Atlantic Richfield Company many, many decades before, but which is now just a lazy waterway shaded by enormous live oaks. As I was standing there, looking at the water I saw a movement. Something was really making waves in the murky water. I edged out onto one of those live oaks until I could get a good look and was amazed to see an otter. Either playing or hunting. I could not tell which. I watched that otter living life like mad until a tiny bit of bark came loose and fell into the canal. That otter instantly stopped, lifted his head out of the water and immediately spied me. Then he vanished soundlessly and did not come back.

As I walked away from that tree I was moving at double-speed because my dad loved that kind of thing and I could not WAIT to get back home to tell him.

And, of course, it hit me. I had no one to tell. No one who would appreciate the experience. And so I just became that much tougher.

I was on the creek behind this cemetery when I saw the otter.

Friday, February 24, 2017

No Snake!

I went over to see my pal, Budd Root today. First of all, I needed to drop off a copy of my novel WORKING CLASS HERO for him and his wife, Leslie. Budd wrote the intro which almost makes it sound like I'm some kind of superhero myself (or maybe a super-villain).

In addition, I was there to help him capture a large Rat snake that he spotted going into the storage building in his back yard. We weren't going to hurt the snake, just relocate it to a place where Budd's wife wouldn't encounter it.

As it turned out, the snake was gone. It had moved on to some other location where the hunting was better. But I did get to hand Budd his copy of my novel, and I got to see the cover art for his next CAVEWOMAN comic. All in all, a pretty cool day.

King Budd! Lord of his own brand of Skull Island!

The cover to the new reprint edition of CAVEWOMAN.

And WORKING CLASS HERO, my new novel introduction by Budd Root.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

On the Field of Play

Almost every day you are going to encounter a personality type referred to as “the alpha male”. You can’t avoid them if you go out in the world.

I encountered my first alpha-type when I was about six years old. Frankly, I’m not sure if it was just before, or just after I entered the first grade. What I recall is that he pulled that alpha male shit on me and what ensued was the first fight that I ever got into. What is most memorable to me is that a passing adult saw what was going on and pulled me off of the little shit. I had his throat against a board nailed between two trees and he could not breathe.

This was a neighborhood kid and I do not recall that I ever saw him again. Mission accomplished.

Alpha males are just part of life. You see them everywhere as you move through your routine of breathing and eating and walking the fuck around. They cause the most disruption in two locations—school, and the workplace environment. Because of my own particular personality type, I found myself beating the shit out of a lot of alpha male types in grammar and high school. Most of these victims of my rage largely ceased to suffer from their social missteps after encountering the violence I handed out to them.

All of this led me to understand that most alpha males are in need of a solid beating. I learned this early.

You will also certainly bump into that human type when you enter a workplace environment. Yes, they live there, too, because not all of them found themselves being danced upon by my feet when they were younger. By the time I began to encounter them in the jobs I’ve held I had learned that beating the shit out of someone was a move that ended up with me in the slammer in the city jail. Yes, yes, yes. It took me a few times of cooling my heels in the confines of a holding cell to realize that I couldn’t just beat the shit out of every alpha male who was bullying me, or my milder co-workers.

Over the years I have found that the best way to deal with these loud-mouths and bullies is to ignore them. This makes them think that either they have you on the run; or it makes them realize that they are dealing with someone they have not previously encountered, and this frightens them. A good, solid stare of rage can also freeze their hearts and make their balls shrink. I have employed this tactic, also.

One place that the more devious-minded alpha males end up is in the world of business. I have encountered such men in my life. You see them online a lot, which is a place that never existed until a relatively recent few years past. One such slug I would see constantly in my days moving around the social media giant we know of as “Facebook”. This website is as good a gathering place for that type of person as it is for everyone else, I reckon. Oh, well, they can’t do much in the way of harm on Facebook other than brag and strut.

But, what I soon found was the sad sight of people who need this guy’s business (or think that they do). I would watch these people—many of them, sadly, friends of mine—suck up to this jackass. They would kiss his anus and lick his imaginary balls. It’s a sad sight in general, but worse when the guys doing the kissing and licking are friends of mine. I couldn’t take it, and so I found that if I blocked the alpha, I then no longer had to watch my pals kissing his ass online.

You have options on the field of play. In this new world, I am always looking for paths that do not involve me ending up in a holding cell in the downtown jail intake center.

Don't handle it like this unless all other options are unavailable and you don't mind sitting in the jailhouse until someone can come bail your ass out. (Yes, I have been there several times, and for just that reason.)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Quiet Time.

As often as I can, I take off to the mountains and go hiking. Generally I am seeking solitude to go along with my exploration of forests. There's not much better than sitting quietly in a silent forest and not hearing the sounds of other humans. No machines. No voice. Just the wind. Some bird song. Perhaps the exclamation of minor destruction as gravity pulls down a dead limb somewhere in the trees.

So that's what I did on Saturday. I drove to the Curtis Creek area near Old Fort NC and climbed a mountain, viewing a couple of waterfalls along the way. Once at the summit, I just sat down and enjoyed the silence.

After relaxing and meditating there for a long time I packed up and headed down to see a couple of the waterfalls I had passed to reach the summit. And there, again, I just sat to contemplate the scenery and to daydream.

Taking it easy on the summit of Buckeye Knob. Just me and the trees and the breeze.

Green Knob, way off in the distance, across the Blue Ridge Parkway.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

THE TROUBLE BOYS, an excerpt.

I am, of course, at work on the sequel to WORKING CLASS HERO. Here, then, is an excerpt from my next novel. Enjoy.

It was another day in my role as a working class superman. I had to show up five days a week at my fake job in order to be nearby when I would have to suit up to do the real job. And as I was in charge of the hyper-humans who were assigned to the fine metropolis of Charlotte, North Carolina, it was my task to be front and center and on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. That’s why they paid me the big bucks. And, yeah, they really do pay me the big money, when you consider that I was making about ten bucks an hour on a loading dock in the days before I came down with Adult Onset Hyper-Development Disorder (AOHD) and became the Mid-Atlantic’s answer to…well…to Superman, I suppose. While I can’t fly and I don’t have heat vision, I’m a lot like the old comic book Clark Kent and his alter-ego in many respects.

I’ll go over the basics again. I stand in at about six-foot seven inches when I’m in my crimson monkey suit. And I can run about one hundred miles an hour for long stretches if I’m so inclined. My leg muscles can take me more than twenty feet vertical and about a city block horizontal. There aren’t but a few hyper-humans as strong as I am, and while I can’t take a tank shell and laugh it off (at least I don’t think so) I have been hit with a 30.06 bullet from a sniper rifle and felt only a mild sting. My senses of hearing and sight and smell are akin to the best wildlife you read about. Bats and hawks and bloodhounds have got nothing on me in that respect. When it comes to control, I can spin and tumble and land on a pinpoint.

Combine all of that with this Kevlar suit and high tech shoes and communication unit installed in my helmet and I’m quite the badass for which I have been so aptly named. That’s me, Billy B.

I was on patrol, as we like to say, and as The Agency who control me likesto put it. That particular day I had talked my supervisor--one Amazonian beauty named Jacqueline Welch--that I wanted to hit the streets on foot. The suit is bad enough, but driving around in one of those damned government-issued sedans makes it even worse. It’s a pain that I have to deal with hyper-powered villains from time to time, but I also have to put up with annoying creatures like Jack Boy and Ronnie who helm the area’s favorite drive-time radio show. And of course high on their list of targets are the hyper folk who run around the town protecting it from criminals and annoying super-villains. And with the whole Amber Ember pregnancy thing going on, they were not about to let that gift fade from the public’s short attention span.
It was roughly ten in the morning. The sun was out. The air was cold and a wind was blowing. That wind was especially rough where I was standing on the roof of the Drake Building in midtown, thirty stories above the street. I had managed to scramble to the top without entering the building at all, having made my way from a seventh-floor parking deck to a section of wall that was uniquely suited for a man with super-strength to make his way up, floor by floor, leaping like a giant red ape along the rough concrete exterior.

I’m sure some people must have seen me, but if they had I was such a boring sight these days that no one had appeared on the roof to bother me or to ask for an autograph or to take my photo.

And so, of course, idling away the minutes and just standing up there watching the flow of traffic below, I was actually surprised enough to flinch when my best hyper-friend Shylock Holmes spoke up behind me.

Have I mentioned that he has perhaps the most gratingly annoying voice known to humankind? Well, he does. It’s like a staccato assault of gravel fired from a machine gun directly into the ear canal. Keep in mind that I hear about fifty times better than the most gifted of people.
“Figured I’d find you on a mountaintop,” he said, voice like a teenaged girl’s fingernails across dry slate.

“Goddamn it, Shylock,” I said, turning to face him. I stuck a gloved finger roughly where my ear would be if I had been wearing that helmet with its space-age amazing perforated fabric allowing egress to all sounds, especially his monstrous voice.

Whenever he did that I always expected him to apologize, but he never did. I think he likes doing it; scaring arguably the toughest hyper between Atlanta and the Big Apple. He didn’t decide to gift me or surprise me with the apology then, either.

He was baiting me, so I waited before asking him why he’d appeared once more in such a way as to get the maximum rise out of my hyped-up sneakers. A few seconds passed. The wind blew. I wondered if I’d grab a sandwich later. I blinked.

“Okay. You must have some nugget of wisdom to impart, or else you wouldn’t have come up here to startle me.”

He drew in an audible gasp of pure sarcasm. “Oh! Did I startle you? Heavens! It was not my intention.”

For a guy with borderline Asperger’s Syndrome, he had a pretty good grasp of cynicism and humor. I waved him off.

I knew he was smiling beneath that ridiculous mask of his. “I just figured you’d like to know that they’re bringing in some new talent,” he said.

We had all wondered about that. We figured that they would. Gila had been killed. Amber Ember was in Denver gestating a baby courtesy of me and an episode of bad judgment by way of a god’s asshole assistant. Flitter had pretty much filled the absent peg left by Amber, but the folk who paid us would also want us to have someone to serve in place of poor, departed Gila.
“So…what are you hearing?” I asked him. The thing about having Shylock for a pal was that there wasn’t much that got past him. Because of the nature of his hyper abilities, he was a pure conduit for the answers to mysteries that hadn’t crossed our minds yet. And if someone was hiding something, they’d better hide it pretty damned good or he would show up with the solution in his pocket.

“What I’m hearing is Fido and Timmy,” he said.

“Fuck me,” I replied.

“Well, when you figure…we had a guy like Gila…they’re going to give us something similar.” He began to sing that old Sesame Street tune. “One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn’t…”

“Enough!” I held my left hand palm out. He thankfully shut the fuck up.

“Look at this way, Billy. Gila was a nine-foot tall beaded reptile in roughly human form who had to be kept inside most of the time because he was just too damned scary-looking for the hoi-polloi. The Agency has a number of hyper-folk around who are similar to our old pal, and they need a place to store them.

“We had one that we were taking care of for them. And now we don’t have one. So…” He left it hanging.

“We get two for the price of one.”  I sighed in resignation. Because I was the one who would have to deal with them whenever there was some action. Also, I had always been the man to talk with Gila, to do my best to make him feel better about his situation. Because they need a man with Level Seven strength, speed, and durability to serve as a sounding board for a half-ton lizard with armored skin who can lift an Abrams tank and toss it across a parking lot. I was their lion tamer.

“Fido and Timmy are…different,” Holmes said.

I looked down at him. He was now sitting on the edge of the cover to an air vent. It was pretty much the right height to be a chair for him. “I met them once. About two and a half years back. Right before you came to head the team here,” he reminded me. “They work so closely together that it’s hard to figure out where one of them stops and the other starts.”

“I don’t dig you,” I admitted. I shifted and little rocks crunched under my feet. A 737 roared overhead on its way out of Douglas International toward some point west.

“Well, there’s a mental connection going on with them. I mean…one of them is like a bull mastiff that stands ten feet at the shoulder, and the other one is a little kid who looks like a real-life version of Dennis the Menace.” He paused. “He even has a slingshot in his back pocket. Did you know that?”

I shook my head from side to side.

“I saw him use it once. Knocked that chick…” he snapped his fingers a few times, reaching for a name. “Bella Bella, that was her. He cocked back with that crazy slingshot and bounced a rock off her skull at fifty meters. Knocked her out. Cold. Game over.” He was grinning under that plastic mask.

“Okay. What was your original train of thought?”

“The kid. Timmy. Overalls. Sneakers. Slingshot. Blonde hair. Freckles. Ten years old, maybe.”
I motioned with my hands, drawing for more information and a little faster, please.

“Those two are bound, Billy. I mean, they are so tight that I can’t really read either of them. I probe at their minds and they’re almost merged completely. Not exactly. One of them is thinking and making plans and formulating tactics. And the other one is mainly just some basic emotions and wants and desires without much in the way of complications.” He seemed to be finished.

“Okay. One’s a giant dog and one’s a kid. So?”

“So I can’t read either of them the way that I should because they’re telepathically communicating with one another so well that I can’t really get inside. I’m stuck talking to the kid the way I would if I were anyone else.” Meaning, of course, if he couldn’t read minds and influence enemies.

“I’ve never met them,” I said. “But I’ve watched video. Fido is just fucking scary. Looks like he could bite through concrete.”

“He can.”

I nodded, believing. “And the kid…Timmy. It’s like you said. He looks like Hank Ketcham drew him or something.”

“He never ages, you know.”

“Yeah, I know. He’s been around now…what? Twelve years? He was a ten-year-old kid when they found him, and he’s still ten years old.” I shivered.

“They’re not sure Fido ages, either,” Shylock said. “He carries a few scars, but pretty much seems the same elephant-sized canine who walked up being led by a rope leash in Timmy’s hand over a decade back. “He gets testy when they get too close to him with probes and needles,” Shylock added. “So they’ve been willing to let him ride.”

There had been other animals that had been victim to AOHD. Of course with animals they called it Adult Onset Mammalian Hyper-Development Disorder. They settled on AOMD for the sake of simplicity, having chosen not to want to add too many letters to the anagram. But there had been only a few examples of it and most of those creatures had either been captured and penned, or had died quickly because they burned themselves out, or had been killed by The Agency or the military.

“The AOMD…do you think it effects anything besides mammals?” I was curious what my all-seeing friend thought. “You ever see anything that made you wonder?”

“Billy…since the first of us appeared some time back, the whole world wonders. I know you think I’m an extra smart guy, but I’m here to let you know that I’m not as sharp as all that in matters animal, vegetable, and mineral. Yeah, I know some basic chemistry and can crunch numbers better than some, and you know I love history. But genetics….who the hell knows? We have seen some strange shit.”

“Yeah…look at poor old Gila. He was about one quarter human and three fourths reptile.”
“And Gorilla Jack,” Shylock reminded me. “You went toe to toe with that guy. Looks more ape than human. And yet…human he is.” He slapped his hands on his knees and stood, his deerstalker cape rolling with the motion. “You never know. It gave us some false human/animal hybrids, and a mutated dog. Maybe there are hyper-birds up there.” He pointed into the clear, cold, February sky. I looked up. “And the ocean is a mighty deep place, too. It may be that there’s stuff swimming around in it that has been affected. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
“So. Tell me,” I said. “When are our two new playmates supposed to arrive?”

Down on the streets far below, something was going on. I could hear horns blaring and even from almost thirty stories the voices were coming to us loud and clear as men yelled and women screamed.

“Right about now, I’d say,” Shylock told me. By then my back was to him and I was standing on the edge of the roof looking down.

The street was now home to a monstrous dog roughly the size of an Indian elephant who was strolling down the right hand sidewalk and clearing a path through sheer mass and intimidation. In front of the beast, holding a length of what I knew was a flimsy hemp rope was a kid, maybe ten years old, maybe seventy pounds, leading that monster canine. Some people were cowering aside, cars were honking their horns, other people were running from the scene, and, I knew, a lot of Charlotte folk were soiling themselves.

“Time for me to do my thing and maintain order,” I told Shylock as I turned to address him.
But of course the asshole was gone.

WORKING CLASS HERO, from Severed Press. The first in a series.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Paperback Release!

The paperback version of WORKING CLASS HERO is now out. Buy a paperback version or the Kindle ebook, depending on your tastes in formats.

WORKING CLASS HERO, By James Robert Smith.

And here is the book trailer for the novel. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

WORKING CLASS HERO, the Paperback Cover!

The publisher sent me the image for the paperback version of the cover for WORKING CLASS HERO.

Just so everyone understands, I haven't had so much fun writing a novel since I penned THE FLOCK which ended up being optioned for film by Warner Brothers. The whole experience was so much fun I had to pry myself from the keyboard to do things like eat and bathe and exercise.

Working on the sequel now and should have it completed soon.

From the dedication:

"This book is dedicated to Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, two men who created a Universe."

WORKING CLASS HERO: The Autobiography of Billy B., A Hyper Human is my latest novel. Combining my working class background with my life-long love of comic book superheroes, I have crafted a work of affection for the loudly-colored characters of my childhood.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Release Day!

The Kindle version is live. Print version to follow. Introduction by Budd Root!

The general population refers to them as “Odds”, people who suffer from AOHD (Adult Onset Hyper-Development Disorder). Such people wake up one day to find that they’re suddenly super-human. They can do things like leap tall buildings. Lift bulldozers over their heads. Read minds. Throw fireballs. Melt steel with a thought. Fly at supersonic speeds, and so on. And what happens? Uncle Sam makes them sign up with the Feds and punch a clock. Or else.
Now, for the first time, we get the real deal, the true story. Told from the inside. WORKING CLASS HERO: The Autobiography of Billy B., a Hyper Human.

WORKING CLASS HERO. From Severed Press.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

WORKING CLASS HERO Edits are Completed!

Whew! I finished editing the galleys for WORKING CLASS HERO, and looked over the added introduction from Budd Root, and sent in the back cover blurb.
This is the longest I've ever spent proofing the galleys of one of my books. Normally I have to force myself to go through the edits. But I had so much fun with this book, and I like the characters so much that it was not a job to go over the manuscript word by word with the editor.

So it is now in the hands of the publisher where it will be formatted and soon ready for publication.

The general population refers to them as “Odds”, people who suffer from AOHD (Adult Onset Hyper-Development Disorder). Such people wake up one day to find that they’re suddenly super-human. They can do things like leap tall buildings. Lift bulldozers over their heads. Read minds. Throw fireballs. Melt steel with a thought. Fly at supersonic speeds, and so on. And what happens? Uncle Sam makes them sign up with the Feds and punch a clock. Or else.
Now, for the first time, we get the real deal, the true story. Told from the inside. WORKING CLASS HERO: The Autobiography of Billy B., a Hyper Human.

Coming soon from Severed Press! WORKING CLASS HERO: The Autobiography of a Hyper Human.
By James Robert Smith, author of THE FLOCK.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

High-tech, Low-tech.

Back in 2012 I was getting ready to head out on a long backpacking trip in Colorado. A friend suggested that I buy a couple of carbon-fiber hiking staffs that were being sold through Costco. I went and looked at them, liked what I saw, and made the purchase.

I did this to save a little bit of weight. My aluminum hiking poles that I'd already owned for about eight years (at that time) were perfectly acceptable. I'd bought them at either Walmart or Target (I've forgotten which). Good product. They worked just fine. But to save a pound of carrying weight, I went out and bought the carbon fiber poles.

The new-fangled hiking staffs performed just fine in Colorado as I climbed over 13,000-foot passes and clambered up and down steep, exposed terrain covered in rocks. And you really could tell the difference in weight in such situations. I was pleased.

Then, in 2014 one of the hiking poles failed on me in deep snow in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. My first thought was that it had lasted two years through some extreme hikes and I accepted the fact that it had failed with no complaint. Plus, I still had its mate and I rarely use more than one hiking staff unless I'm on a multi-day backpacking trip. No harm, no foul.

Fast-forward to yesterday, February 7, 2017. Coming down from the rugged King's Pinnacle the surviving member of that carbon-fiber duo collapsed and failed. Alas.

Again, I was forgiving. It had lasted over four years through much abuse. What did I expect?

And then I thought about the aluminum hiking staffs that I had bought way back in 2004. The ones I had more or less abandoned when I got the new ones in 2012. They were still here. They still work perfectly. And I hadn't completely abandoned them, using them from time to time on various local hikes and backpacking trips. Never a failure. Never a complaint. And I'd only paid $20 for the freaking pair of them!

Yes, they are a tad bit heavier. But you know what? I'm not going to shell out for another set of high-tech carbon-fiber hiking staffs. The good old aluminum ones will do just fine. Will they eventually break? I have no idea. If they do...well, I really have gotten my money's worth out of them.

Cheap, but effective, and rugged. I'll keep 'em, thanks.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Crowded Mountain

It only takes me about twenty to twenty-five minutes to drive from the house to Crowders Mountain State Park. Over the decades that I have lived here it is the park where I most often end up when I feel like hiking on steep terrain but don't have the time to head for the real mountains.

So it was today when I took my second trip there in two weeks.

Today I hiked to the top of King's Pinnacle. It's the highest mountain in the park at just a tad under 1800 feet above sea level. Yeah, I know. Pretty pathetic even when compared to a park like South Mountains. But the summit does stand over 900 feet above the surrounding terrain and there are cliffs all around the top, so it's an impressive little mountain.

One thing about Crowders Mountain State Park is that I never really see any wildlife. The only creature I can expect to see are Turkey buzzards. Other than those, the only wild animal I have ever seen in the park was an otter. This was really strange because there is almost no water there...just a couple of small streams and a very small man-made pond. What this otter was doing in this dry, rocky terrain is a mystery. It crossed the Pinnacle Trail in front of me, paused very briefly, and hurried along. I suppose it was headed for a decent creek or river somewhere and was just passing through.

I think the reason I never see any wildlife there is because of why the park is affectionately known as "Crowded Mountain". Since it's so close to Charlotte and Gastonia, a lot of people go there to hike. On a busy day you will encounter hundreds of people. This was a mid-week hike for me and I still met up with well over twenty other hikers. So don't go there expecting anything like solitude. You won't find it, unless you decide to leave the trails and go bushwhacking through the woods.

All in all I had a good time today. Climbing up there was a decent little workout. The wind was brisk and the skies were thinly overcast and the temperatures were very mild. It was a fine day to be out in the forests climbing mountains.

There are a butt-load of rocks in that park.

They're not kidding. It seems hardly a year passes by without someone falling and getting killed on the cliffs on King's Pinnacle and Crowders Mountain.

This is the most popular overlook on King's Pinnacle. Not quite the summit, but it does offer a view of the high mountains far to the west on a clear day. You can even spot the Black Mountains from there when the conditions are right.

King's Pinnacle. Good for an infusion of hiking upward.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

A Little Mitzvah.

My dad and I were once up on a mountain in Alabama called Wade Mountain. All covered in limestone boulders. A movement on the rocks caught my dad's eye and he saw a snail moving quite faster than he'd ever seen a snail travel. He pointed it out and we both went over, knelt down, and watched what was going on.

The snail was being attacked by this very colorful predator bug that I've only ever seen on Wade Mountain. The bug was built low to the ground, had many legs (far more than six) and had a shiny, segmented carapace of bright red, and brown, and yellow. It obviously was trying to kill and eat the snail.

And the snail was employing several methods of defense: It was moving along, as I said, faster than you would think a snail could ever go. Just exuding slime. But the bug was faster and kept darting around--front-back-side, over and over relentlessly, trying to bite the snail.

But another thing the snail was doing was making this shield of thick, viscous bubbles. The bug could get through them, but only after biting and biting and never quite reaching flesh before more bubbles would be produced.

We continued to watch as the snail made a really big bath of these bubbles and came to a halt as the bug attacked from one side. At that point the snail's shell leaned heavily to the left. The bug was trying to bite through the last of the bubbles. We couldn't figure out why the snail was leaning over so far.

And then the snail SNAPPED to the right and knocked the holy shit out of the bug, sending it backward a little. didn't really injure the bug and as soon as it recovered from the shock it came right back. We figured it was curtains for the brave snail.

So my dad took a stick and flicked the bug off the boulder on which we were all crouching, sending the predatory little bastard about twenty feet down to the forest floor where it wandered around and vanished into the leaf litter.

Talk about yer deus ex machina.
One of the spots on Wade Mountain where we used to hike.The entire mountain is like this...limestone rock everywhere and packed with all sorts of fossils.

The snail we saw was similar to this one.

This is a millipede. And most millipedes are herbivores, but in my kid's memory, the bug doing the attacking looked a lot like this. Not sure if it was a millipede like this one, but it sure did look very similar.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

WORKING CLASS HERO: BOOK ONE, The Autobiography of a Hyper-Human.

My new novel is edging closer to publication. It's a take on the idea of super-heroes, one of my long-time loves of fantastic fiction.

Introduction will be by Budd Root, creator of the popular Cavewoman comic book series.

The world is home to people who "suffer" from what physicians came to term: AOHD--Adult Onset Hyper-Development Disorder. Some very rare few are hit with flu-like symptoms, out of which they always recover, but with super-human abilities. These range on a scale of One to Ten, called "Levels". To date, there is no known Level 10.

When one is struck with the disorder, it is law that you must report yourself to the authorities. Afterwards you are given a job, working ostensibly as a federal employee. Your only other choice is to go underground and become an outlaw. All outlaws are imprisoned when possible, killed when not.

This is the story of Billy B., his autobiography as a Hyper Human.

The cover of WORKING CLASS HERO: Book One. Coming from Severed Press.