Help Me Celebrate – The Augmented Man Is Available for PreOrder from Black Rose Writing

They all laughed when I said I wanted to be an author, but then when I sat down and wrote a sentence…

A few years back I switched careers and set out to be a published author.

Today (3 June 2019) my goal is reached; Black Rose Writing is publishing my first novel, The Augmented Man (many more novels to follow).

The Augmented Man Bookcover

 
I would like you to help me celebrate and am offering three suggestions:

  1. Preorder a signed copy from me
  2. Preorder a copy directly from Black Rose (use promo code PREORDER2019 for a 15% discount)
  3. Donate something to a charity.

Susan and I celebrated with donations to Catie’s Closet and the Manchester Animal Shelter.

So please help me celebrate however your heart leads, and thanks.

Thanks to the folks who’ve already congratulated me in phone calls, emails and online.

Empty Sky Chapter 1 – The Cabin

Sometimes we find our friends in the dark

(been doing some rewriting that I will explain in future posts. for now, this is the new opening.
Also edited the previous posts/chapters for those following along. Enjoy. Or let me know if you’re not and why.)

Jamie, delicate and flaxen-haired, felt Shem’s tail thumping the blanket. The big golden sat on their bed staring out the cabin window, his coat glistening in the moonlight.

Jamie whispered, “What is it, boy?” He looked past his dog to the oak, elm, pine, and ash of the Upper Peninsula Michigan forest. The Moon, full and bright, illuminated the trees and the small, one-room cabin at their center.

Shem scratched at the door to go out.

“Do you have to pee?”

Shem whined softly.

“Shh.” Jamie glanced at his parents, Ellie and Tom, asleep on the other side of the cabin. You want to wake mom and dad?” He crawled out from under the covers and tip-toed to the door where he stood on a chair, drew back the bolt, and lifted the latch.

Cool winds rustled treetops, turning them into brooms sweeping low-hung clouds from late September skies. Dust devils spun up mists where night air met day-warmed rocks. Owls and loons, peepers and crickets, hooted and chirped. Trees bowed to the rising Moon.

Shem walked into the night. Jamie followed.

The Moon continued her ascent. The woods fell silent.

Silent.

Ellie sat up in bed, her hands clenching the blanket, holding it tight against her. A cold, dank wind swirled through the cabin, lifting things slightly, inspecting them, putting them down, drawing a musk of old earths in its wake.

Moonlight entered the cabin’s single room.

Her eyes fixed on Jamie’s empty bed.

“Jamie! Shem!”

Tom rose and put his boots on in one motion. “Where are they?”

Ellie pointed at the open door.

Tom threw her coat to her. “They must be together. Shem won’t let Jamie out of his sight.”

“Something’s got them. Some wild animal.”

“Calm down, Ellie. There’s no blood anywhere. Shem’d raise hell if something got in the cabin or near Jamie.” He grabbed an iron poker from the woodstove.

Ellie stopped at the door, a silhouette against the night. “Shh.”

“What the…”

“Shh!”

Tom whispered, “What are they doing?”

“It looks like they’re playing.”

“With whom?”

Jamie and Shem romped in a grassy clearing twenty feet from the cabin. Moonlight cast long shadows everywhere as they danced about, the sole performers under a celestial spotlight.

Tom looked to the rutted dirt road that served as the camp’s driveway. No cars but theirs. He scanned the shadows.

Ellie whispered, “Can you hear that?”

“He’s laughing?”

Jamie danced in circles, laughing as if being tickled, his arms up as if waiting to be lifted, little hands grasping, little fingers curling.

“Shem’s bowing.”

“Isn’t that dog for ‘Let’s play’, bowing? He’s not facing Jamie. Who’s he playing with?”

Beside Jamie, Shem, bigger than Jamie and the boy’s perfect playmate, jumped up and bowed and ran around as if someone was throwing his Frisbee to him.

The Moon cleared the trees, lighting the clearing from above. Jamie’s and Shem’s shadows crept underneath them. The wind stilled.

Ellie grabbed Tom’s arm. “Do you see that?”

Other shadows entered the clearing, some Jamie’s size, some slightly larger. Shadows with nothing to cast them. Shadows where there shouldn’t be shadows. Shadows standing upright, not cast on the ground.

Jamie danced with them and they danced around Jamie. Shem ran among them, played tag with them. Jamie laughed. Shem barked.

Not a warning, not an alarm.

Recognition.

Something twinkled in the shadows, prisms breaking the intense moonlight into bright rainbows.

On the edge of the clearing, in the dark where the trees stood in ancient vigil, eyes gathered in the moonlight.

Ellie woke, the covers clenched in her hands.

She looked across the cabin. Jamie and Shem, sleeping together as always, in their bed.

She let out a breath. She shook her head. It was a dream. The full moon’s light came in through a cabin window. It must have disturbed her, wakened her, worried her in her sleep.

She rolled over, away from Tom to give him a little more room.

And saw dew-laden toddler-sized footprints and paw prints on the floor.

She sat up as the cabin door closed.

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Empty Sky Chapter 6 – Jack Games

Best Friends. Forever.

Read Empty Sky Chapter 5 – Joni Levis


Jack Games leaned against Room 343’s window. 343 was the largest private patient’s room in his clinic and the only one with a picture window overlooking the University of Chicago Medical Center’s quad. He watched some med students play hackeysac on the lawn while others sat on benches soaking up the sun. The quad was surrounded on all sides by the Medical Center’s white, gray and tan facades. The university hospital stood just out of sight off to the side.

“What are we going to do, Tom?”

Tom McPherson snored, a gentle hnnh sound.

Thirty PhDs, MDs, DScis and related specialists worked for Dr. Jackson Arthur Games. He chaired the University of Chicago’s Neurosciences Department, co-chaired the Center for Narcolepsy Research at the University of Illinois, Chicago, was on the board of the Defense and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, unofficially owned the third floor of the Brain Research Institute, sat on the board of the BRF Center for Molecular Neurobiology, and on Monday afternoons held an online, invitation-only Sleep Disorders Specialty Clinic.

None of which meant shit right now. Jackson Arthur Games had come a long way from DC’s Prospero House, the largest orphans’ home in the tri-state area, and most of it with the McPherson family’s financial backing.

“Smart investment, eh, Tom? You spent how much money on my education and I can’t do a frickin’ thing for you now?”

Tom hnnhed. Tom hnnhed in his sleep for as long as Jack knew him.

He remembered one day when he and Tom were in Jack’s college dorm room. Jack got dressed while Tom sat on the bed, watching Jack’s silhouette against a not quite as large window.

“Holy shit, Jack. You’re black.”

“All the way down and for most of my life, smart ass.”

“No, I mean, I’ve always known you were a ‘black man’, but I never noticed your skin. It’s black. Darker than mine anyway. Wow. That’s neat.”

Jack held up his hand as if to check Tom’s statement then caught himself. Tom’s sincerity was both stupifyied and contagious. But Tom had always been innocent and naive in ways Jack couldn’t quite fathom.

“You are truly color blind, my friend.”

Their bond cemented a year later in their junior year.

Tom was packing his car for Christmas break and Jack blocked his path. “Hey, fuckhead.”

“What?”

“How come you never ask me home? What’s the matter, you a closet racist? You got something against orphans? Did you think I had someplace to go?”

Tom made no comment. He picked up a laundry bag and put it in his trunk. “None of that’s true, Jack. You know that.”

“Well, you never ask me home. What’s the prob? You got a crazy uncle locked in the attic?”

Tom stopped mid way to his trunk with a box of books in his hands. “No. Go get your things. I’d love to have you with me for the holidays.”

They drove two-hundred highway miles in silence. They exited the highway and traveled some low mountain country roads until they came to a old village built along a river.

Jack said, “Is that a waterpowered mill?”

“Yes. Still operational. Doesn’t power anything, just something to look at and remember.”

Jack looked at the company store turned country store, the hitching posts, rail guides, and water troughs still prevalent along Main Street. “Wow, what a sense of history.”

“History. You got that right.”

They rode another twenty minutes in silence. Tom turned up a gravel drive hidden in trees at the far side of town. The drive stopped at an ivy covered mansion buried in a copse of oak, ash and pine.

“Tom, I’m sorry. This was a stupid idea. I’ll head back to town and hitch back to school.”

“Why?”

“I’ve been here before, Tom. I’ve made friends before whose family thought the darker the skin the more ignorant the man. I don’t need to be your proof that desegregation doesn’t work.”

“You think that’s why I never asked you home?”

“Well?”

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