Friday, February 23, 2018

THE TIME STOPPER, chapter one excerpt



is now live on Amazon

This is book 3 in THE TIME BENDER series and is the alien Marcum's story. Here are the first few pages:

WHEN KLAQIN’S TWO moons pass in retrograde orbit above our farm in Turlektrad, making the mists rise from the lakes and ponds, it’s time to help with the harvest. There are several entrances to the reaping caves, but tradition dictates that we go to the middle of the field and find the oldest opening, the one with precisely measured stone steps that descend into a well-lit cavern. My mother Krimar has already placed baskets at intervals and my father and I have to pull on the dangling roots to cause the crops to slip through the spongy ground and drop into the baskets. Occasionally we hear the sounds the vegetables emit above as we yank them from their constant sun and daily mistings.
“This will be your last harvest, Marcum,” my father Pauro says. “Krimar and I have decided to let you train.”
I know I should thank him, but the words catch in my throat and my ears uncontrollably wag like a weediq’s tail. All I can do at first is grunt a civil “Ehk.” I stretch to reach a particularly short root and tug gently. “Krimar made you change your mind, didn’t she?”
“No.” Pauro picks up his full basket and walks toward a shaft. “I met with a leader of the Gleezhian refugees.” He looks over his shoulder to judge my reaction. But I am brave, as I’ve been bred to be, and I show no concern over this startling revelation. In my head my thoughts are whirring. Without realizing it I pluck the pechans too close to their stems.
 “You know a little of the last invasion, Marcum, but at the Academy you’ll study more and learn to fly.”
Learn to fly. I am certainly old enough. At last. Sixteen solar orbits, no longer a child.
“There’s a transport through here in two double-moons. You’ll go then. They’ve received your genetic analysis and one Commander in particular is quite eager to have you.” Pauro returns for my basket. Tiny droplets of moisture glisten on his lashes and coat his cheeks with a wetness like tears. He carries my basket off and repeats the system of sending the full containers of produce down the deep shaft to the food processing plant ten stories below. A skeleton crew of workers slaves to change the colorful harvest into condensed pills or liquid vials that will sustain the Klaqin space Commanders for extended periods of time. I yearn to be one of those Commanders.
I finish another basket and carry it past my father as I calculate all I’ll need to do in the next two double-moons. I am not sorry I’ll miss the animal harvest scheduled for four double-moons from now; it’s a difficult time for me because I’ve befriended most of them, even hidden some in my room for training. But Pauro has always depended on my help since mother refuses to go near the house processor.
My thoughts dart from pets to flying to invasions and alien wars. “But what did meeting with a Gleezhian refugee have to do with your decision?” I ask, wondering how safe my mother will be if there are exiles around.
“The refugees are gaining political ground. I stumbled upon some females prowling the area. They’ve been here a long time and still can’t speak our language.” He shakes his head. “They were armed, of course, and forced me to one of their sites where their leader spoke a fair bit of Klaqin.” He clucks his tongue as is our custom and snaps two fingers before he pulls down a triple root of yellow plickken. I see by the wiggling of his ears that he is excited to tell me this. “I got the feeling that something unexpected and dangerous is in the works. They threatened me … wanted me to join them. I pretended to sympathize with them for our safety, which brought me to my decision. I want you to be a trained and accomplished Commander and not just some farmer’s son who doesn’t know an arc-gun from a spike-rod. I want my child to be daring, courageous in battle … heroic.”
He still calls me a child and I hate that. But I cluck my tongue in agreement and smile on the inside. I’ve heard many stories about the resistance, the refugees, the anti-Commander factions and of course the Interstellar Combat Academy. The Academy used to be highly regarded and extremely difficult to earn a place in, but not now. The First Commanders, it is rumored, plan to draft all males above childhood age. There is private talk of acquiring females my age, though that will be for the females’ protection and for population insurance. There is no longer a test to pass for entrance. But there should still be plenty of competition. I want to join not out of patriotism or obligation, but because I want to explore the farthest regions of space.
I spend the rest of the harvest time speaking sporadically to my father while daydreaming about flying the latest spacecraft. He admonishes me not to join any clubs; there are ones, he says, that addict a man to mechanical pain inducers. I contemplate the warning for a moment then turn my thoughts back to piloting. He counsels me against taking leave to the Fringes of the big cities such as Plickkentrad or Cormenor. The Fringes, he says in a voice loud enough to interrupt my daydream, are gateways to banishment. That piece of information is new to me, but I can ignore it since I don’t expect to take any breaks from the Academy.

   ***end of excerpt***

If you haven't read THE TIME BENDER you're missing out on my favorite series to date.