Tuesday, May 22, 2012

IV:The Other Hamilton Sister::Venom


I've seen people cook these without draining em. Not me. Besides there are uses for that venom. I try to drain any that's left in the sack into whatever small container I have handy. This one only had a little. It was enough though if it had gotten close enough to score a hit. Stuff can paralyze a horse. If they can catch the horse. Most horses seem to have a sixth sense about these lizards.

Love the taste. That's the lizard not the horse.

Don't ask me what it taste like. I don't like chicken. Come to think of it this stuff is more like the marrow from that bone in the round steak. A little rich. You can only eat so much. But these lizards usually aren't any bigger than a cat. Cats like the lizard meat too. But, I've seen a few get on the wrong end of the deal. It's not pretty.

I lick some of the juices off my hand. The fire crackles and sparks. My other hand withdraws quickly. I've cut most of what I'll eat off. It's spread out on the flat part of the wood I call my plate. Sitting on my haunches well away from the radiating heat I nibble. When I look up Michelle shifts her weight. I think she's been sitting there waiting for me to offer her part of my kill. I point the knife at the fire. I say, "I was gonna save the legs for Jason. I know how much he likes them." Mich's nose wrinkles and the look of disgust tells me the legs are safe. I say,"Oh. Sorry I should have offered some of this." I separate the remaining chunks half and half and hold out the plate.

Mish puts her nose up and kicks at the dirt. Some of the dirt goes into the fire. She turns and starts to walk away. Without turning back she shouts, "You people are disgusting. I don't know how you can eat that crap. Those lizards and the disgusting..."

I offer, "Insects."

She says, "No! Those maggots. You eat insects too?"

I have to think about the maggots thing. Then I say, "Oh, the grubs. Sure those are good for you. And, It's mostly the larger insects. They have extra flavor."

She's almost running now. I can hear Mish choking or screaming. "Ahhhhhhhhhh..."

I hear someone laughing. Looking towards the sound I see Ted is standing shirtless with a jug under his arm. He's leaning up against a fragile tree. His feet are all clomping down on some green vines. I fix him with a remonstrant stare. I say, "It's really not that funny you know. She shouldn't be out here if she can't contribute. More so if she can't stomach the things we bring to the table."

Ted says, "She's a hoot. You were supposed to bring her up something from the bar." He uncorks the jug and takes a long swig.

I pull my eyes back and upward. "Oops. I forgot." I point at the flat thing on the fire with the legs lightly scorched. "I did bring that though, Jason doesn't have to have the legs."

Ted rolls his eyes and says, "Like she's ever going to touch that stuff."

I look at his jug and say, "Maybe if you could get her to drink some of that she wouldn't be so averse."

He hugs his jug more tightly. Now he has nasty looks for me. He says, "She starts in on my stash and I'll deliver her back to her mom and dad."

Shaking my head I say, "She didn't run away. They booted her. She doesn't have many options."

Ted grumbles, "As opposed to you who have parents who posted your picture before they discovered you weren't interested in being found."

I divert my gaze to the fire. Watching the flame inhale and exhale. I say, "Yeah, well. It wouldn't be a problem if I'd been brought up the sensible way. I'm not even sure how you can call people parents when they not only don't have your genes, but they have no clue how to parent someone."

Ted says, "Maybe you should cut them some slack."

That makes me growl. I say, "Maybe you shouldn't drink that stuff in the daytime when it can suck the water out of you. You'll pass out somewhere where no one notices and my next lunch will drag you off somewhere."

Ted shrugs his shoulders and says, "Circle of life, ya gotta love it."

I hear a rustling of the nearby foliage and start to wheel around. Ted shouts out, "Oh, welcome back Jase, you're early. Thought you was gonna work all weekend. What's that you brought back with you?"

I turn in time to have Mr. Dalton Greymare thrown almost at my feet. His hands are behind him. When his forward motion pushes him to his knees I have to stick mine out to keep his face from hitting the ground. His clothes are all dusty. His face and arms are scratched up a bit. When I take a closer look I can see the heavy duty plastic tie that's binding his hands together. I look up at Jason ready to ask him what the deal is but I have to stop and turn away. I'm almost laughing.

Jason is also covered in scratches. It looks like the bramble attacked both of these guys. But, Jason has a black eye too. Bramble doesn't usually do that. When I look back down on the captive I notice he has a shitty grin on his face and his eyes are staring at my thigh. Jason lowers the antique weapon he's pointing at Dalton. He scowls and says, "Good you can torture him for a while."

I nod at the rifle. "Where'd you get that? My dad has one like it. It's in a glass case. Like it's something valuable. Only takes it out to clean it."

Jason looks at the rifle with what seems like added respect. He smiles and says, "Got it as a sort of bonus on my last job."

I say, "Nice bonus." Reaching down I hook the tie and pull out my knife. I say, "Enuff horsing around. We should let Mr. Greymare go."

Jason looks at me with quizzical eyes. Then he nods and pulls a wallet from his pocket and says, "You know him? I guess that would be about right. Being he's from your home world. Don't cut him loose until I have a moment to find out why he ambushed me." His hand has stopped my knife before reaching the plastic.

"Ambush?" I raise my eyebrows. I don't know if I should be impressed or confused. I look at those boots again while Jason tosses the wallet at me. I catch it and look down to Dalton, who seems happy to rest his head on my thigh, I say, "Escura Luz, is this some joke. A fake ID. Greymare from Escura Luz. Lord Greymare?"

His shoulders shrug and Dalton says, "I am but a shadow of my former self."

That hits home. The clones that are brought up after their namesake has passed away are religiously taught to view their life that way. I throw the wallet down and say, "Yeah, a shadow full of crap maybe."

He doesn't say anything so I grasp his wrist and tear him away from his comfort zone.

Jason says, "I didn't know you had lords on the clone worlds."

I look Dalton in the eyes. Yeah there it is or isn't. There's no fear. He has a neck chain. I pull at it and it pops out with a small tube floating at the end. These are used to scab off a chunk of flesh to go to the vats when Dalton has any sort of death, untimely or otherwise. Most of the clans closer to the central cities keep some on file. Some like the ones in the region of Escura Luz don't have that much luxury. And some choose to wait until the event happens. They have been known to lose a part of their line that way. He still looks too soft to me. But I now have a little more respect for him.

Letting out a long breath I say, "So what are you doing here?"

Almost bordering on glib Dalton says, "Your friend here dragged me."

Shaking my head I say, "Not here, here. Why are you on New Terra? I always thought mom and dad were just being paranoid that someone was going to come out here looking for us."

Dalton fixes me with a cold stare before he turns his head and over his shoulder he says,"You should have killed me out there when you had the chance." Jason just looks confused. Dalton turns back to me. He says, "Your parents are dead."

My heart sinks and I have no idea why.

It's quiet for a long time. Jason seems to be on the edge. He's holding the rifle as though he's going to throttle it or maybe strike Dalton with the stock. Unsure of which, I hold up my hand and say,"You don't want to mar that if it's valuable." I stare at Dalton while a moist glimmer of a tear is trying to make itself in the corner of my eye.

Dalton looks once more over his shoulder and then address's me again. "They were murdered three days ago. I arrived here yesterday. I picked up the perpetrators trail by evening. They went to ground and I spent the night at your nice tavern. I almost missed his flight out this way but i was able to get up there on Jerry's truck so I could intercept him."

Gasping once I say, "What are you talking about?"

Jason takes this moment to bring the rifle to bear down on Dalton's kidney. Dalton's knees start to buckle but he holds his stance. He grits his teeth and says, "You should really take a closer look at that weapon."

Jason brings the rifle up, I try to grab the barrel and pull him towards me. He lets off a shot that nearly deafens me. He pushes me aside trying to rip the rifle from my hands. He tries to point it at Dalton with me still holding onto it. I grasp my knife and swing it out towards Jason's face. Jason brings up a hand to his face and he steps back. It probably felt like he was stung. He looks at the blood on his finger and starts to move forward again with the rifle.

I grit my teeth and say, "You should probably get down to the river and wash that out." I let my eyes wander to the fire where the charbroiled lizard sits over the dying embers."

Jason looks, his eyes widen and he drops the rifle and runs almost in the same direction Mich had gone.

I wheel around and grasp the front of Dalton's shirt. I pull him closer and say, "Alright, while he's busy you better start talking fast."

When he remains mute I nudge him."Better hurry before he realizes that knife didn't have any venom on it."

Copyright 2012 J.L. Dobias

Monday, May 21, 2012

III:The Other Hamilton Sister::Hiss


I hear the hiss first and it causes me to turn roundabout 180. A hiss is always bad out here. Damn lizards. They attack just about anything this time of day. I have my knife out. I don't see the tell tale dust trail. I listen and watch. I hear the whirr and whoosh of an Anti-Grav lift truck. I wait and sure enough there's a hiss. It's still not a good thing. I look up from my stalking and down the twisted dirt path until I see the artificial dust devil bringing up the rear of Jerry's supply truck.

Jerry's an okay dude for a city type. He occasionally drops us campers a few supplies. And, on days like today he tends to offer me rides. That hiss tells me he'll want just a bit more than to offer me a ride though. Trouble with those old pieces of CORE material they use for the Anti-Grav is that they are made from the scrap of the good stuff they use in outer space. This one is overheating more than usual and the sweat from the systems pipes is starting to flow down upon it. That means the coolant system has been overtaxed or compromised.

I put my knife away and stick my hands in my back pockets while I wait for Jerry to catch up.

Jerry takes runs over the mountain and into the next valley. While in the big city He picks up supplies that he knows are needed in the small city. He makes a moderate profit selling the stuff to the locals in WestBend City. WestBend is mostly a shanty town. They have a local government though. Otherwise Jerry would make more profit. He has to pay taxes to the city.

Jerry's Rio Express is close enough now that I can see the sun gleaming off the silver grill. I can also distinguish the steam from dust. Anti-Grav is more push then it is a float. That creates dust. Some people call it anti-pressure, I'm not all that sure about that. But it does seem to show up better down here where pressure is higher. If a piece of CORE were to push its way up high enough it would likely stop for lack of enough pressure to react upon. The whole system is an affectation of keeping the CORE crippled. They call it cripple mode. They hobble the CORE so it doesn't slip into JumpSpace. That produces the Anti-Pressure effect. Trouble is it causes the CORE to overheat the longer it stays in that condition. It can take a lot of heat before it reaches critical.

If it gets that far it's going to do one of two things. It might just blow. It might slip into JumpSpace. Either way it will likely take a good chunk of whatever is near it with it. Jerry's taking a chance with that thing but maybe he saw me here and figured he could get to me before he could turn back and try to reach the city.

Several meters away there's a clunk and the dust storm dies. It dies with a vengeance though and comes whipping up around the front until everything disappears and I get a face full of dirt. As the wall of sand abates I catch the shape of the truck gliding towards me. The CORE is still activated or he'd be nosediving into the rock and sand. I can hear the thistle cacti pinging against the underbelly as the truck ducks a bit before it settles.

Jerry's tanned left arm is hanging out of the window. His head peeks out and he says, "Hey Angie lady how bout a cool ride?"

I call back, "Sounds about ready to get real hot if you ask me."

Jerry's other hand slips out with a rolled up pouch full of tools. "Na. Not if you take a quick look see. I'll be out to help you in a sec." I run up and take the pouch. A face leans around Jerry's shoulder. Jerry doesn't usually take on strangers. I don't recognize the face. It's nothing local. Jerry ignores the company and says, "The tank is full in back if it needs recharging."

Looking over his shoulder I say, "You starting a bus service Jerry?"

Jerry waves his hand and says, "Tourist."

That makes me blurt out, "Tourism in WestBend City. That's... different. I guess."

The face has a hand and it's waving at me. I take a closer look. Last time I saw that face it was serenely attached to a table top. I almost duck for cover. Instead I just wave and say, "Oh, hey you woke up."

Putting the tools down and wiping my forehead I look at Jerry who's bending my way and has been mostly watching. Jerry hands me a towel so I figure that means I should probably check and see what parts I just dirtied up on my face. I look at him and say, "It probably has a slow leak. You might have to have someone check it back in the big city. I'm not sure anyone in WestBend City will be of much help. I can't seem to find it and the system took a good charge and its holding for now. So you should be good to go. If you had someone charge this recently you might be able to gauge by that to when it will need attention again. I wouldn't wait though."

Jerry nods. He looks over his shoulder at the gentleman standing watch near the front of the truck. He's been real polite about not interfering or helping. He looks kinda soft anyway. Those boots of his look more fancy ornamental than practical. Good thing he's heading for the little city. He isn't rough enough for the terrain here. I touch Jerry's shoulder and say, "How much you getting for being a tour guide."

Jerry's face almost goes red. He hesitates and then says, "Enough."

I say, "Well, I guess i can ride out on the sideboards."

Jerry shrugs and says, "I don't think he'll mind you crowding into the cab."

I spit onto the ground and say, "I don't expect so. I'll still ride outside."

Jerry cocks his head and says, "He's the one noticed you out here first." He grins a bit and says, "He thought maybe we should offer you a ride."

I lift my eyebrows and say, "I take it you hadn't mentioned you were about to turn back."

Jerry looks off to the side and says, "I was only just then thinking about it. Kinda glad to see you myself." He looks back to the front of the truck at his guest.

I glance that way and back and have a thought. I say, "How much extra did you tag him for to let me ride along."

Jerry doesn't answer. That's what I thought always the entrepreneur. I grin at him and say, "If I did ride up front with him you'd just want to charge him more anyway."

As Jerry moves back towards the cab I notice a slight limp in his gait. I say, "What you do to your leg there."

He waves a hand in the air and says, "Just twisted things up while loading the truck. It'll be alright after I work it out a bit."

Were moving along at a fair clip and it won't take long to get up into the mountain and out of these hills. Jerry's path will take us a bit away from where the canyon divide sets hidden behind some of the largest trees you'll find around here. That means I still have a way to go after he drops me off.

I'm hanging off of Jerry's side of the truck and was going to ignore Tom over there on the other side. But, Tom seems too eager to make chit chat. He leans into the windshield to see around Jerry and says, "Hi my names Dalton. Dalton Greymare. I don't believe I got your name last night."

I turn to let the wind hit my face. There is still a lot of whining and whuring going on and all sorts of dust kicking around behind us. These Diamond Reo's blend in nice what with all the natural dust devils that whip up along the plain below. Leaning back into the window a bit, to annoy Jerry mostly, I say, "Angie."

Jerry laughs, "Yep, just Angie."

I shake my head a bit. That's what most people think, just Angie. I remember the General had a last name for us. We girls. What was that? Something having to do with the prime male donor for our genetic workup. I have another thought though. I lean into the truck again and say, "Greymare that's a prominent name in current clone history."

Dalton nods and says, "Yep."

I'm thinking he's either just agreeing with me or he might know a bit of common history. Things stay quiet for a while and I finally blurt out. "Hamilton, That's my last name or at least the only one anyone ever tried to give me."

Dalton says, "That's another name with a lot of history."

Looking at him through slitted eyes I say, "Wouldn't know any of that."

He sits back quietly. So, I return to staring off in the distance. It won't be too long before I get off this ride anyway. Too soon we slow to a halt. I look back at our drifting brown tail. I hear Jerry say. "Just stopping to sight see."

I try to look past Jerry but he's half way out the window and in my way. So I shout, "Not much to see here unless you're partial to desolation. There's some nice trees and foliage up a bit further.' There's no answer so I turn and look across the sand and rock through the tumbleweeds. I'm almost tempted to get off and finish this on foot.

After a long wait Jerry says, "Well, you might just as well get in the cab now." He has leaned back in and the seat next to him is vacant. I step down and run around the front of the truck then I go half way to the rear. On the way back I shout, "What did you do with our guest?"

Jerry says, "He got off."

I say, "When?"

"Just now." Jerry looks out past me towards a large stand of dried weeds.

I wave my hands and say, "Why didn't you say something. I could've tripped him up and knocked him out. You could have delivered him to WestBend. Out here by himself something will kill him and eat him. At least in WestBend they won't eat him."

Jerry says, "He ran behind the bramble if you want to chase him. But, I'm not gonna stick around long."

I shout again, "Why did you do it? And, what anyway? He just decided this was a good spot to go hiking."

Jerry shakes his head, "Ha, he paid me earlier and said he was gonna be dropped of somewhere out here. Hell when we picked you up I figured he'd at least wait and get off with you. Course with you being miss cordial and all he must'ov figured that wouldn't work."

I nod and say,"Darn right it wouldn't." Looking outward I can't see anything moving. I say, "I'm not chasing after some mad man. Just remember when somebody misses him and tracks him out here I'm pointing them your way. No way I'm gonna put up with them harassing us once more for something we have nothing to do with."

Jerry says, "No Problem. I'm gonna pick him up here on the way back. I gave him the time and he said he'd be here."

As i climb into the cab I say, "And if he's not here."

Jerry shrugs, "I'll come up and visit with you and leave a note on the truck."

While I glare at Jerry he turns to start the truck. I say, "You didn't tell him how to get to our camp did you?"

Jerry puts us in gear and as we slide forward he shakes his head. "Na, I wouldn't do that. He'd be killed and eaten for sure then."

After that we ride in silence.

I slam the truck door and don't even say goodbye. I can't believe Jerry could be that rude. The trees afford enough shade for me and I take my time walking through the brush. We've been very careful not to wear down a traceable path. I walk back and forth weaving a new route over fallen trees and moss covered rocks. I'm quite a ways in before I hear the hiss. Jerry and his truck are gone so it's not them.

I stop to look around and I think about that foolish tourist. Maybe the boys can take a moment to hunt around for him. The lizards will still be active for a while. I pull my knife from my side and wrap my fist around it pointing the blade down.
Something moves.

This time it's me who hisses.

Copyright 2012 J.L. Dobias

Friday, May 4, 2012

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Cripple-Mode: Hot Electric

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Cripple-Mode: Some notes on its Birth

The Cripple-Mode Series was born somewhere in the early 1980's. It had been in my head for awhile before, just rattling around. It was somewhere near 1980 that I broke out the smith corona and started tapping away at sheet after sheet until I had the first two novels of a trilogy fleshed out. A lot of it was on the back of some scrap paper.

Then, as with many things, life sort of got in the way and took me on a wide left turn. But those two novels stayed tucked away in their briefcase through the ups and downs. All of the time I would have odd moments when I would dwell on the notion of getting back to them to whip them into shape.I mostly wrote snippets of poetry in those scattered years. And I read a large volume of science fiction.

By the mid 80s I had my first computer and was almost tempted . But, there was another left turn up ahead. It was not until the year 2000 that I got serious and looked at the old papers long enough to shake my head and decide I needed to have a back story for some of my ideas.

One of the main themes of my story involves the main characters struggle to adjust to specifically mind bending personal issues. A back story might leave that on the back burner. So I almost dropped the notion of  spending a lot of time or for that matter anytime on the back story. But, I still needed to be more secure about how we got to that spot in her life. The original story took the reader half way into it before these issues even arose. It was at that point that I decided to bring the issues into the story at the very beginning.I just wasn't clear yet that this was going to be the beginning of the back story. It was not until I chose the style of writing that things began to jell and the story began to tell itself. Mind you this is all still in my head the real on paper writing doesn't start till 2006.

Cripple-Mode: Hot Electric

Copyright 2012 J.L. Dobias