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If you haven't been listening to this brilliant audio drama - you should.

Because it's excellent.
 
Episode 8 out of 9 in Synesthesia Theatre's presentation of the cyberpunk audiodrama "Cold Reboot."
Subscribe on: iTunes | Google Play | RSS Erica and Kate decide to work together to get back at Dae for all that trouble he’s caused them. The scamp! Show Notes Episode 8 Cold Reboot was adapted from the novel Continue reading 021: Cold Reboot, ep 8→
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I haven't read all of Richard's books, but I've read enough to know that you will enjoy them...
 
I was going to wait until tomorrow to announce this, but why wait?

Get 8 Books for Just 7 Bucks!

Tomorrow marks the fifth anniversary of the release of my first book, Take Back Tomorrow. To celebrate I've dropped the price of all my books.

Visit my author page to find the links. https://www.amazon.com/Richard-Levesque/e/B00720DZ94
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MONGOLIAN METAL

It's a thing, it's a good thing. (Also: very loud [as it should be] so make sure the volume is down before you click, or you're alone, or you just don't care.)


Named after the sky god of Mongolian shamanism, Tengger Cavalry blends overtone throat singing, Mongolian horse-head fiddle and other nomadic music tradition...
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LURE OF THE RIPTIDE (part 1)

I thought I had left Maliha Anderson behind for a while, but it seems I am required to write a new novella (for reasons). This one fits chronologically between book 1 and book 2.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Maliha knew she should just walk away.

She glanced along the Pondicherry beach. The waves rolled in on the ebbing tide without the slightest concern for the naked body they had deposited on the sand. A cluster of fishing boats bobbed in the distance, perhaps half a mile out, just silhouettes against the brightness of the early morning sun.

She turned inland to see if anyone was watching her. Beyond the breakwater the early morning life of White Town moved to and fro along the roads she could not see. The French-looking seaside houses stretched along the front.

But there was no one close to her. No one to see the woman’s body lying face-down in the sand, her straight black hair a bedraggled halo and the darker tone of her skin marking her as a native, just like Maliha herself. Native but a stranger in the land of her parents.

She considered the possibility of leaving the woman to the crabs and gulls, but it was no more than a thought.

There was a gash in the skin, about three inches long, located halfway between the ribs and the rise of her buttocks. The sea had cleaned the deep wound and its edges were well-defined. It looked to be the work of a broad-bladed knife or perhaps a sabre. She moved closer.

Her Grandmother did not have to be present for Maliha to hear her bitter words. Will you dishonour your dead mother?

It was the last day of her mother’s funeral rites. The only day Maliha was able to take part since she had arrived too late to carry out the rites herself. A distant female relative she only vaguely recognised had been given the duty, since Maliha’s Aunt Savitha was not permitted.

For a year after performing the rituals a person could not be involved in a wedding, and Maliha’s cousin was due to be married in a few months. They would not have cared if Maliha was tainted. She was only a half-breed and an excuse not to invite her would have been the perfect solution.

Maliha moved around to the woman’s feet. Her skin was not bloated so she had not been in the water very long. The soles of her feet were not heavily calloused which meant she was not of the lowest castes. She was not completely devoid of adornment, there was a thin chain around her ankle. Maliha bent over awkwardly in her corset and layers of dress, leaning on her stick, she peered at the links.

They looked as if they might be silver. It was not the finest work but good nonetheless. It was not cheap.

Maliha stood up straight and stretched her back, settling the corset back into position. Refusing to wear a sari or salwar was her rebellion against her Grandmother. It did not really amount to very much but after years at Roedean School, Maliha still felt more comfortable in the defensive shield of so many layers rather than the revealing looseness of Indian dress.

Perhaps she had been killed for her dowry. Maliha could not see her face but her skin said she could not be much older than Maliha, if at all. If she was a bride with a decent dowry it would not be at all surprising. Women had no value beyond their bride price and their ability to produce healthy male heirs. Even the simplest logic could reveal the long term unworkability of that viewpoint.

With both her parents killed in the fire, and her father holding patent on a number of devices as well as being well paid by the British Government, Maliha herself would be worth a considerable sum—sufficient fortune to be independent—as long as the legalities could be worked out. Grandmother was satisfied by this because it meant that it should be easy enough to dispose of. She wanted nothing more than to get such a headstrong, disobedient, invalid and, worst of all, educated girl out of her life.

There was no bruising, at least not where Maliha could see.

Settling her feet in the sand, Maliha used her walking stick to move the woman’s hair away from her face. As young as Maliha. Pretty.

The question was now, what should be done?

The remains of her father’s body were already on their way back to England by the time she arrived. They had gone by sea since there was no hurry, his ashes were not going to rot during the journey. She would visit his memorial one day.

But if she reported the body to the authorities her Grandmother would declare her to be tainted and unable to join the funeral rites. It was not that Maliha was particularly religious, her years in England had put paid to that, but she did not want to give Grandmother the satisfaction of denying Maliha that final chance to say goodbye.

On the other hand, how could she deny this woman her proper end, and allow her spirit to move on to its next life with the proper rituals of her own family, simply because Maliha herself wanted that choice?

The sea boomed behind her, gulls screamed above, and the world continued. The world did not care that another woman had been robbed of her life.

But Maliha cared, even if it was not in her best interests, and even though she knew she would receive no thanks for it. It never was, and she never did.

<<>>

Maliha leaned on her walking stick and watched from the edge of the promenade as the two untouchables lifted the woman’s body on to a wooden cart and covered it with an old blanket. They proceeded to drag the cart laboriously up the beach. Its thin wheels cut into the sand.

Once they had mounted the ramp on to the boulevard Maliha led the way. The dead girl had most likely come from Black Town—that part of Pondicherry reserved for the wealthier Indians, just across the ditch from the European colonials.

The un-British architecture fascinated Maliha, as did the people themselves. Pondicherry had been acquired by the French East India Company as part of the effort to rival the British. Unfortunately they had not only been late to the party—all the best spoils had already gone to the British and Dutch—but they were terrible businessmen. The French traders had gone to the wall long before their British equivalent had been disbanded. All efforts to revive the company failed.

But they left behind a part of India that would be forever France.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

#saturdayscenes #steampunk #murder #thriller
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LURE OF THE RIPTIDE (part 2)

Start at part 1: https://goo.gl/tSYOEj

I thought I had left Maliha Anderson behind for a while, but it seems I am required to write a new novella (for reasons). This one fits chronologically between book 1 and book 2.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

ii

“You are late,” snapped her Grandmother from the top of the stairs. “What have you been doing? No, do not tell me, I do not want to know. Running about the city without chaperone like a hussy. I forbid you to leave the house.”

Maliha mounted the stairs steadily. “Don’t worry, Grandmother, you do not need to feel responsible for me. I will not be staying long.”

In fact she had not been intending to leave Pondicherry. Every night through those long years she had dreamed of returning to her parents, but with them gone there was little to hold her here. Grandmother had made her decision for her.

She reached the top, Grandmother was a small woman and even Maliha was taller by nearly a head. “You are my daughter’s daughter, you must be married off.”

Only three weeks ago Maliha would have agreed that she had no choice, but now she had an option. “I’m sorry, Grandmother, I have a position to fill.”

A look of horror filled the old woman’s face. “You have a job?”

“An elderly lady is in need of company and offered me a place to stay.” Maliha worded it carefully. It wasn’t a job, and she wouldn’t be paid. But most importantly she would not be hounded day and night, or presented to ugly sons of ugly parents with a view to marriage. Being half-white was not an advantage in the marriage market so the choices would comprise families with ailing businesses needing to be propped up by her dowry—not to mention what she might own outright when her father’s estate was settled.

“When you say ‘lady’?”

“She is of the British nobility, Grandmother.” Maliha bowed her head slightly and pressed her palms together. “I must get changed.”

<<>>

It was the first time she had worn a sari in years. It felt strange and, though it was really quite discreet, she was embarrassed by the amount of her skin it revealed. Her cousin Renuka helped, otherwise she would not have arrived on time in the courtyard where the ceremony was being held. Renuka had been full of questions about England but Maliha just told her to hurry.

The distant female relation was already following the priest’s instructions, the food was laid out—a lot of food—and the close family was sitting around and watching.

It surprised Maliha again. If this had been a funeral in England every one would have been sitting ram-rod straight in the pews of a church. Here people just relaxed. It was hard to expel the Britishness from her thoughts, and she was not entirely sure she wanted to. There was security in that discipline. It reminded her once more, how out of touch she was with her home.

When the time came Maliha knelt, awkwardly as the strain triggered shooting pains in her scarred thigh. She accepted the food gifts and offered them to others. The priest talked about her mother’s spirit and how it was now released from its past and could move on. He said her mother’s wisdom and piety would be sure to give her a good next life.

Maliha was not required to speak for which she was grateful. It was embarrassing enough just being the centre of attention.

The ceremony came to an end here. There was just one more thing, to give her mother’s ashes to the river. The Ganges was too far away, even by flyer, but they had the second best thing in Pondicherry: the Kaveri, the second holiest river in all India.

The back gates were opened to reveal carts sufficient to carry all the guests. The priest went in the first with Maliha and the close family. The others followed.

The roads constructed by the French for Black Town were in a grid just as they were for White Town. The procession exited a side road and headed slowly south. It was past midday and the sun was high, but each cart had an awning that kept the passengers in the shade.

Although the towns were segregated there was no bar to either colour crossing into the other zone. The carts turned on to a ornate bridge that would not have looked out of place bridging the Seine. Gaslights rose from pillars that grew from the carved dolphins in the stonework of its walls.

What it bridged was far less savoury, the drainage ditch was also the main sewer, open to the sky. The stench was enough to make one retch, and the air misted with the density of flies. A high tide would help but it needed the monsoon to flush it clean each year.

They entered White Town. It was not that skin tone changed much—Maliha herself could almost pass for white—but the bone structure. More faces were European than not. It gave a curious feeling of security.

They turned south again along a wide boulevard, they could have so easily have been in a port on the Mediterranean Sea. The carts now kept to the right of the road. Several steam-powered self-powered carriages puffed by. They were extremely popular in England and the South coast roads were filled with them of a weekend during the summer. They roared, hooted and thundered up and down the narrow lanes driven by gentlemen with more money than sense.

The old Queen had been dead these eight years and under Edward VIII things had changed enormously. In what she had seen of British-governed India and Ceylon, so far, those changes had yet to arrive; but here, in this little France, life was up-to-date.

A dark green jacket caught her eye. Three French soldiers on the far side of the boulevard were talking animatedly. She stared. Were they hussars? No, half a dozen books on military uniforms sprung to mind and clarified her impressions, they were Chasseurs à cheval “hunters”, they were the intelligence gatherers for the French army.

Why would a detachment of such soldiers be in Pondicherry? There was certainly no threat of war between France and Britain, the Entente Cordiale was in place and most people seemed to appreciate the increased trade.

On the other hand, why would they not be? This was a good a place to be as any, perhaps they were training. One of them, he was blond with very impressive moustaches, turned on his heel and stalked away from the other two. She heard one of them call his name “Louis?”. An unfortunate choice, she thought, his family must long for the world before the Republic.

“Maliha, can you not disguise your wanton behaviour?” snapped her Grandmother.

“Why are there French soldiers here?” she said.

“Well, I am sure I do not know, nor do I have slightest interest,” said Grandmother. Maliha turned and directed her eyes demurely at the horses hooves clopping along the cobbles.

There was one other thing that concerned Maliha. The horseman’s weapon of choice was a sabre.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

#saturdayscenes #steampunk #murder #thriller
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VALKYRIE

So, this is a bit different. Actual superhero characters (now public domain) from the Golden Age of Comics, in new stories. I'm writing this for an anthology. See what you think...

Original artwork by Jay Pisco
http://jaypiscopo.deviantart.com/art/Airboy-and-Valkyrie-color-279152379

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

i

The city of Oracle is about twenty-five miles north of Tucson on Route 77. But five miles before you reach it, at Oracle Junction, you can take the 79 towards Phoenix.

Virgil Guardado wrestled with the wheel of his truck as the turn appeared in his headlights. His brother, Ray, was asleep and snoring against the open window on the passenger side.

They made the journey to the Air Force base every week. All the things the regular forces supplies didn’t provide: magazines, cigarettes, footballs, basketballs. The USAF was a good customer. Though Ray was always saying how they seemed to use a lot more than seemed right for a place that size.

Virgil shrugged. They paid well and maybe they were selling it on. He didn’t care. It was worth getting out of bed at three in the morning to make the run. They were back before noon to take over the shop for the afternoon rush.

Half an hour later the sky in the east was turning pink. And the sign for the base, the words almost invisible from weathering, went by.

Ray woke up at the clunk of the gear change as Virgil reduced their speed.

‘Órale!’ shouted Virgil and slammed his foot on the brake. Ray slammed into the windshield. The truck came to a shuddering stop. The engine died and there were thuds from the back as their cargo shifted. Something smashed.

Ray put his hand to his head, it came back red with blood. ‘You idiot. What are doing?’

‘Trying not to run over that … her.’

He pointed forward at the motorbike lying crossways on the track, and the form of a woman beyond it where she had been thrown.

Virgil and Ray climbed out of the truck and headed for the woman. Ray glanced at the bike. ‘That’s a funny looking machine.’

‘Never mind that, she better not be dead, brother, they will blame us.’

The first thing Virgil noticed as they approached was her hair: long and red but not bound back but loose, it was like a fire. She was lying face down. Virgil blushed. She was wearing some kind of tight suit of leather. It showed every curve of her body and she had plenty of those. He cringed at the thought he would have to describe the scene in his next confession.

He shook his head. ‘Is she hurt?’

As if she heard him the woman moaned.

‘Thank the Lord she is still alive,’ he said.

Ray tutted. ‘Let’s get her into the back, give her to the airmen. They can look after her.’

‘What about her bike?’

‘We can make space in the back.’

Virgil could not find any blood on her, she must have just hit her head. Being careful where they put their hands they managed to get her back onto the bench seat of the truck. She wasn’t tall and fitted easily. Ray could ride the rest of the way on the floor.

The bike was light and Virgil was right about it being strange. ‘No tank for gas,’ he said as he wheeled it to the rear of the truck. ‘No engine, no exhaust.’

‘Maybe it’s electric,’ said his brother. Virgil thought about it and it made sense, but he’d never seen anything about electric bikes in the magazines.

Anyway Ray had made a space and the bike was easy to lift in, so that was a blessing.

They climbed back in the cab with the woman. Virgil started the engine and nudged the truck forward, he drove at half his usual speed and tried to avoid the holes.

ii

‘All I’m saying, Lis, is that we don’t have to live so close to the base. We could get somewhere bigger, in a nicer area.’

She pulled away from him, slid across the satin sheets and sat on the edge of the bed facing away from him.

‘I’m happy enough here,’ she said.

She grabbed the open packet of Marlboros from the bedside table and shook out a cigarette. The lighter wasn’t there.

‘Here.’

She turned. He held the lighter out to her. She reached out for it but he pulled it back at the last moment.

‘I’m not in the mood, David.’

The look of reproach that replaced his grin told her her “lack of mood” had cut deeper than she imagined. His playfulness was more like spite. Men’s appetites made them hardly better than animals in the bedroom. Not that she usually objected. She had been the one to start their relationship and there really was something special about David. She had known that from their first kiss—even though she had stolen it when he was her prisoner.

‘I’ve got a lot on my mind,’ she said to relieve him of some of the blame, not that she thought it really had anything to do with her. She turned back and returned the unlit cigarette to the packet.

Things had been simpler during the war. Simpler after it too, until recently.

‘You heard about McCarthy?’ she said.

‘What about him?’

She thought the senator might be trouble for them both. She got up and stretched. The curtains were closed so no one could see her but she still felt exposed. She was only American by marriage. And she, with her Nazi squadron of women, had shot down a lot of Allied pilots before changing sides. She was at risk but David didn’t see it. He was always too trusting. If he hadn’t been they wouldn’t be together now.

‘Never mind. I’m going to take a shower.’

‘I’ll join you.’

She turned to him. She liked the way his eyes flicked across her body. He still appreciated her that much. She was going to tell him no, but relented. She was his wife, she had duties, and they were not unpleasant.

‘We’ll be late,’ she said but held out her hand and smiled.

iii

Jeez, Janie, men are so stupid. Oldest trick in the book.

Jane Cole had given up her real name years ago but in her head she was always Janie. What her Mom had called her. She didn’t like thinking too much about those days. They weren’t good times.

The good times had come much later. Times like these, after she’d been broken out by the Lady Illyria. One day she’d find Plastic Man, the one that had gotten her locked up, and she’d melt the SOB.

But for now the Lady was depending on her. Sure, she usually provided the muscle for the Lady, but infiltrating a military base was a step up from their usual heists. And, how had the Lady put it? ‘Rendering their defences inoperable.’ Yeah, Janie liked the sound of that. That was class.

Jeez, not only are they stupid, they really stink.

It was taking so long she was wondering whether they had taken the right road when the fool in the driver’s seat finally hit the brakes, gently this time.

He wound down the window and the fresh morning air floated in. Followed by some heavy aftershave not hiding the sweat.

‘Howdy, Virgil, Ray. Who’s this?’

While ‘Virgil’ was explaining how they found her, she ‘woke up’. Sitting up slowly she looked around. It was the way they were expecting her to behave, just like in the movies. There was only the one guard on the gate, too many would have looked suspicious the Lady had said. But there were other defences deeper in.

‘Are you okay, ma’am?’ asked the guard poking his head through the open window.

‘I’m dizzy,’ she said and fell against the brother on her right, who wasn’t driving. She put one hand against the back of his neck and the other on his chest as if to steady herself.

She gave him a little nudge and the energy sizzled through her. He looked surprised as his heart stopped. There would only be moments before the guard realised something was wrong. She stretched her arms and pressed her palms against body of the truck. This would need a real punch.

She squealed as she let the power flow. A little push gave her a tingle, a thrill, but the big ones hurt—though she kinda liked that too. The guard was flung away from the truck with a crack of lightning.

‘Ray?’ Virgil was staring with the same look of surprise, as his brother slipped to the floor. Then he looked at her, as she pulled herself upright again, rubbing one hand against the other. His voice quavered. ‘Who are you?’

She put her head on one side and her mass of red hair shifted, rising and crackling with static.

‘Aw, sweetheart,’ she said as the terror came into his eyes. ‘I’m Thrilla.’

The power that flowed from her, when she reached out and touched his forehead with her finger, made his every muscle contract. Bones snapped. He would have cried out if he could. Instead, he died.

She pulled him out of the way and moved into the driver’s seat.

Jeez, I almost need blocks on my shoes to drive this stupid thing.

She shuffled forward until she could reach the pedals then glanced out the window to make sure the guard wasn’t about to move. His shirt, where it had been touching the body work, was smoking. So were his palms. He wasn’t getting up this side of Judgement Day.

She put the vehicle in gear and headed for the administrative buildings.

iv

David drove as they headed out of town raising a cloud of dust behind them. He liked the way the wind whipped her hair as his Aztec red Cadillac Eldorado sped out of Phoenix and into the desert. His wife lit her second cigarette of the day.

He pressed down on the gas, and the car responded smoothly.

“What’s really bothering you, Lis?”

She took a drag and exhaled the smoke, it was ripped away by the airflow. “I know General Lawrence put in another request for you to hand over Birdie and Storm.”

“I’ll just decline as usual.”

“How long is it you think you can keep doing that, David?”

He loved the way her German accent came out when she was so serious.

“They can’t make me.”

“Of course they can.”

The mile signpost for the base flashed by.

“They’re not Nazis, sweetheart.”

“They do not have to be, David, they only have to believe your refusal is damaging the country. Do you not listen to McCarthy? I have heard those speeches before, twenty years ago. Most people in the Reich weren’t evil, they just believed they were right.”

“You didn’t.”

“I did believe it,” she said, “but I changed my mind.”

“My charms won you over.” He glanced over at her with a grin.

“Do not fool yourself, yankee. You forget who put those scars on your back.”

He slowed as they approached the turn off. The airfield was a mile from the main road but access was little more than a track. The sign was covered with dust and gave no indication of the special and secret nature of the place. Just an Army pilot training ground in the middle of nowhere.

“They know they can’t make either plane fly without me.”

She took another drag on her cigarette and blew out the smoke. “Or me.”

“You wouldn’t sell me out.”

“No.”

They slid round the bend at forty raising a mini tornado of dust and stones. He’d done this hundreds of times before and knew every bump.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

#saturdayscenes #sf #superhero
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KYMIERA (EP 2): POISON

A chapter from the second book in my SF/Superhero/Dystopic YA but fairly standalone. It takes place in the UK and there are references to UK towns and cities. I'm sure you can cope...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As far as Dog was concerned the biggest problem with being off the grid was the lack of easy transport. He had been lying in the dreary room that he regularly used to doss down for the night, in a set of empty terraces in the west of the city. There were plenty of lowlives and poor people here, plus those animals that had made a comeback after man had lost its fight against the virus. But as far as he was concerned it was empty of anyone in authority, or anyone who might report him to authority. And that’s what mattered.

When he first took up residence, he had sealed off the upper floor room. He bricked up the doorway and the window, but cut a large hole in the roof which he covered with a trapdoor. A set of stone slabs in the corner meant he could have a fire, though it wasn't too cold. It wasn't even too damp.

Still, the thought of Mr Mendelssohn's home in Knutsford was considerably more attractive, and he had been invited.

Before dawn, he mounted the ladder up through the ceiling, crossed through several adjoining buildings and then down into a back garden, that was so overgrown it was more like a jungle. He could smell cat, and rats, and there was stream not far away which boasted a whole host of additional wildlife. He had dined on meat he caught himself more times than he could count. A good burger was better though.

Even though he couldn’t take any official transport that didn't mean that he had to walk. He headed cross through the dark to the nearest main road which carry traffic from the centre of Manchester South through Timperley and Altrincham both almost completely deserted, and then out to Knutsford the playground of the rich. As he understood it, it had always been the home of the rich.

There were always self-drive trucks on the road, and the mostly redundant drivers never paid much attention to what was going on around them unless they had to. It was easy to wait at traffic lights — he always laughed at that, there was so little traffic at this time of day the traffic lights were complete were completely pointless,. And then a truck would pull up and, once he made sure it was going where he wanted, all he had to do was climb on the back.

Unfortunately the lights at the junction where he wanted to get off were green and his vehicle barrelled through them though still keeping to the speed limit. Choosing his moment he leapt off backwards and came to a running halt, watching the red lights of the vehicle disappear into the distance. It had been one of the long-distance trucks and was heading for the motorway.

It was always risky in Knutsford. Unlike the city you couldn't take the chance of running through backyards because security was everywhere. The richer they were, the more worried they were that they would lose what they had.

The rain had started as he was coming out of the city proper and he was already soaked through. Dawn had turned the blacks into greys but everything was wet. Mr Mendelssohn's house was a quarter mile away, hidden down a back road in its own grounds among half a dozen other similar buildings.

It took him 15 minutes to negotiate the back alleys and track, to come out a short distance from the main gate to Mr Mendelssohn's estate. One advantage of the security and paranoia, was the fact that every driveway entrance was hidden from the other houses. He reached the gate, if he’d had a riffy they would have known he was there already. But instead he knocked.
He took a few steps back and glanced up at where the security camera turned and twisted to point at him. He grinned and gave the guard a wave. There was a grinding of an electric motor, the sound of bolts being drawn back, and one of the two massive wooden gates moved back slightly. He slipped in and it slammed back almost instantly.

"Jeez, Brian," said Dog. "You could have had my tail off." Not that he had a tail.

The guardhouse was a small wooden shed with the door and window from which a yellow light was glowing. The door was yanked open and Brian Ekings, in his grey security uniform always tight around the middle, stared out through misting glasses. "How did you know it was me?"

Dog grinned. "Aftershave, mate."

Brian frowned, and rubbed his beard. "I don't use aftershave."

"Must be something else then," Dog said with a shrug and closed the gap to the door with the rain still beating on his head. "You going to let me in?" Brian retreated further into the shed, Dog followed.

"Stay by the door, you’ll get water everywhere."

Pushing the door shut, Dog leaned against it and dripped onto the wooden floor. The end of the shed where he stood had a couple of small cupboards and a shelf with a toaster and microwave both looking the worse for their age. The end that Brian had retreated to was filled with monitors and other surveillance equipment but rather than looking at a screen, the security guard was studying a sheet of paper on a clipboard. He looked up.

"You're not on the list for this morning," he said slightly shaking his head. "Can't let you in if you're not on the list."

"Yeah, but you're not gonna make me go back out in that, are you?" Dog jerked his thumb at the door and then pointed at the ceiling where the rain continued to thrum down.

Brian shook his head more firmly. "Mr Mendelssohn's rules, Dog. He’ll have my guts for garters if I let you in before your time."

"I don't think your guts would make very good garters," said Dog seriously.
"Oh, very funny. It don't change nothing, can't let you go up to the house."
"You mean you let me stay here," said Dog, "that's really kind of you, Brian, thanks very much, appreciate it."

Brian looked for a moment as if he was going to object, Dog jumped in. "Shall I make us a cuppa?"

<<>>

Mr Mendelssohn went out about half an hour later. Dog stayed back behind the door as the black limousine crunched up the driveway. Brian operated the gates and noted the details down in his logbook using real ink in real pen on real paper.

"Mr Mendelssohn really doesn't like computers, does he?" said Dog.
Brian set the doors to close, they wound shut and the mechanical locks clicked into place. Brian glanced up at his guest. "Computers get hacked," he said. “Or viruses.”

It took another two hours before Brian became so annoyed at Dog that he allowed him to head up towards the house, alerting the other guards to his presence. He even lent Dog his umbrella.

Dog followed the gravel drive past manicured lawns, and carefully organised flowerbeds. The cleverly placed trees only blocked the view from beyond the fences but also hid the house from the driveway. Dog took deep breaths through his nose, tasting the scents. Out here in the country, you could barely smell the decay of civilisation. Of course Mr Mendelssohn had his own sort of decay, thought Dog, as he avoided staring at the armed men placed at strategic locations on his approach. These men weren't armed with tasers. Their guns, like Bryans, were designed to kill and they knew how to use them.

The house itself was nearly seventy years old and sprawled across the a valley, and bridging the stream that ran there. There was one wall which was much older than the rest, maybe 400 years, and the way the stream split into two channels made him think that it had been mill, once upon a time. The fact that the house was also called Lower Mill tended to confirm it.

He was searched before he was allowed in the house but that wasn't unusual and he didn't carry any weapons anyway. The one thing he didn't do either at the door or back with Brian was mention Mendelssohn's daughter, Delia. But she was the real reason he was here early, he wasn't fooling himself.

The first stage of his plan had been partially fulfilled in Brian's shed where he had managed to get a few things to eat but mostly dry sandwiches and a bit of toast. Once in the house he headed directly for the kitchen. The cook was there and she would only allow him a cheese sandwich. But that was fine because the cheese was a big slab of Cheddar and the bread thick enough to make a good door wedge. He ate it voraciously.

Feeling a bit more human, or at least what passed the human with him, he headed for the swimming pool. It was the middle of the day, Delia was home (as always) and that was the only place she would be. He stepped through the doorway, and leaned against the wall. The surface of the pool was barely moving, almost like glass.

A dark form moved beneath the surface as if it were a wave, undulating through the water. The pool wasn't huge, perhaps only 30 feet long and the dark form travel that distance in mere seconds. When it reached the far end, it tumbled over and thrust away from the wall, once more sliding swiftly through the liquid.

From his position he couldn't see it when it was closest to him but it was only out of sight for a second or two before it was back on its return journey. And so it went on, backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards, one end to the other, never breaking the surface, barely making the surface ripple.

Dog glanced at the clock, if he was not much mistaken he'd been here watching for perhaps 15 minutes before the undulations changed. The dark shape twisted in the water, and thrust upwards. It burst like an explosion from the water, showering the poolside with glittering droplets.

Delia Mendelssohn landed on her feet. The flood of water she had brought with her cascaded from her body and flowed back into the pool. Within moments her skin looked dry, though a little shiny. The flattering, deep blue swimsuit glistened with water. Delia was well muscled but not excessively.
She reached back and twisted her hair pulling it over her shoulder. The light caught her, emphasising her curves—Dog knew it was no accident.
Delia glanced at him. "If my dad knew you were watching me like that, he’d bloody kill you.".

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

#saturdayscenes #superhero #sf #scifi #dystopia
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Steve Turnbull

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When is an advert not just an advert

When it's the Australia Day lamb advert, this is amazing.

Fire up the barbie!

via +karen j carlisle
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Steve Turnbull

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You may think Trump's tweets are stupid but they're not, they're very calculated and highly manipulative. Don't talk about his tweets, talk about what he's hiding with them.
 
George Lakoff is a cognitive linguist and professor of linguistics at UC Berkeley, where he has taught since 1972.
He writes:
Please share widely and tag your favorite journalist. http://www.wnyc.org/story/taxonomy-trump-tweets/ Special thanks to Greg Gibilisco (@gibilisco on Twitter) for creating this.
https://georgelakoff.com/
As unpleasant as this is, it's important to see clearly some of the manipulations and diversion tactics of a narcissist. (there are more)
It is still amazingly powerful when you're standing in front of it or listening to it , but this knowledge does make you stronger.
#NPD #narcissism #manipulatingpeople #Trump #cognitivelinguistics #industrialpsychology #corporatepsychology #politicalmanipulation
@GeorgeLakoff 
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That's why I don't follow him on Twitter and try to ignore posts that talk about his twerps. But for as long as the media does talk about them, he controls his message and does not need to answer questions. Why is they still letting him play this game?
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So, it seems I am required to write a Maliha Anderson short story in the next month.

I can do that.

The tricky bit is that it's for people who don't know her ... and there are precious few places I can fit in a new story anywhere near the beginning of the series.

But I have a cunning plan.

#amwriting   #steampunk  
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LURE OF THE RIPTIDE (part 3)

(There's even a proper cover now.)

Maliha found a woman's body on the beach, rather than report it to the authorities she is investigating it herself. In the midst of this she is also dealing with the funeral rites of her mother, now reaching their conclusion...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The sun was behind her, and her shadow stretched across the boulders and into the glass-like water. The tide was coming in. The distorted shapes of weed, sand and fish twisted beneath the rippling surface.

There was now no sign of her mother’s twice-burned ashes that had been scattered to drift on the waves. Burned once in the fire that had consumed the house, then the second time in the death rituals because you can’t miss out a step just because it’s already been done.

And now she was gone, her spirit set free to be born once more. Maliha sighed. If only it were that easy.

A few clouds floated dreamily across the porcelain blue of the sky. Seagulls hung and then dived. Others bobbed on the surface. If she closed her eyes she could imagine herself in England, but while she loved the green of it she had no reason to return.

Her father had been Glaswegian and an engineer but he had made his life out here where he met her mother. They had married against the wishes of both families. So Maliha was born of rebels with their contrary blood flowing through her veins. Perhaps she would visit one day but, in truth, she would rather find somewhere to hide. She did not owe the world any favours.

But there was the poor murdered girl, she deserved better. The truth should be found out.

What if a French Chasseur met a young Indian girl and they fell in love? And somehow she was killed by his sword?

Or, more likely, he seduced her, did what men do, then killed her and tossed her body into the sea in the hope she would never be found. Sadly that was far more likely.

“Maliha!”

Maliha sighed and turned to her cousin, the girl was barely two years younger but somehow Maliha felt a hundred years older. She had already seen so much more than a woman of her age should, and read every book she could find—including many that no woman would ever be expected to read. Her Grandmother would declare her spirit irrevocably tainted if she had even the slightest inkling of that truth. But knowledge was not tainted, only its uses.

Grandmother had not even asked how Maliha had come to be so scarred and damaged in her thigh that she could not walk without a stick. She probably thought Maliha’s spirit was so unclean it was a natural result. Perhaps she was not that far wrong.

“Maliha.”

Renuka was suddenly beside her.

“Have you heard? Arnithi Devanaya is dead—murdered!”

“Who is Arnithi Devanaya?”

“She married Srikanth Devanaya last year,” said Renuka in a rush. “We were not invited but the Devanaya’s wedding was five days long.”

Maliha stared back out to sea. The girl had a name. A bride.

“Is Srikanth a handsome fellow?” she asked.

She could almost feel Renuka’s shrug. “What does that matter? His family is very rich.”

“What do they do?”

“They import silks and sell them.”

Maliha considered, since trading vehicles had taken to the air things had changed. Once India had been a major stopping point in the trade routes between Europe and China. Land routes brought the materials from China into Northern India while sea routes brought them through the island chains.

But once the Faraday device had become common and airborne vessels could carry huge quantities of cargo—the RMS Macedonia SkyLiner that had brought her back to India was 35,000 tons and carried over 300 passengers on its six rotors—the sea and land trading routes were abandoned. Everything flew direct.

It was unlikely the Devanayas were as rich as they claimed or, if they were, it was based on past wealth. And that was quite interesting.

“Perhaps we should visit to pass on our condolences,” said Maliha.

<<>>

Maliha sat with a dozen women she did not know in the zenana, the women’s rooms, of the Devanaya house. She did not miss the subtle glances in her direction from the other women. Renuka had slight acquaintance with the family so it was not completely odd they should be there.

But Maliha was effectively a foreigner, a stranger in her own land. Too British for the Indians, too Indian for the British. And too British for the French no doubt, as well.

Mrs Devanaya was holding forth about such a terrible loss and the crime done to her son’s wife. And her poor son whose wife had been torn from him by some terrible criminal. She proceeded to attack the gods, and then plead with them.

It was tiresome and unrevealing but the performance expected of her in the circumstances. But Maliha was not fooled, she had seen the wounds on the poor girl’s hands. Those were not caused by her murderer, those had probably been done by this woman.

Maliha turned away, she stood and went to the window. The mother-in-law hesitated for a moment in her diatribe but managed to pick up again as if she had not been interrupted. There was an ornate screen designed to prevent anyone from looking in but it did not stop Maliha from seeing out.

The street was almost deserted. Death in a house would have that effect, the place was avoided if possible. In India, shame drove everything.

Could Arnithi have killed herself? Who commits suicide by running themselves through with a sword? Apart from the Japanese.

Maliha shook her head. There was so little to go on. There was a flash of green against the whitewashed houses. There he was again, looking at the house.

Maliha put down her cup of cold chai, she would have preferred a British tea with milk, and headed for the door.

This time the hostess did go silent and Maliha realised that all eyes were on her. She turned and pressed her palms together.

“Please forgive me,” she said. “I am overcome with sorrow for the loss of such a fine daughter-in-law. Namaste.”

Renuka jumped up to follow as Maliha swept from the room. She hurried in an unladylike way down the stairs. The servant at the door barely had time to open it as she hurried out.

“Maliha!” called Renuka. “What are you doing?”

“I could not stand the hypocrisy, cousin.”

“Hypocrisy?”

“Do not pretend you do not know what happens to daughters-in-law that do not match the standards of their husband’s mother.”

“But…”

Maliha caught sight of the soldier on the corner. He looked nervous. He was less the chasseur and more like a rabbit faced with a farmer’s shotgun. He was staring directly at Maliha. She returned the look and strode towards him, walking stick clicking on the cobbles.

She had managed to close the gap to no more than ten yards when his confidence gave out. He turned.

“Wait, monsieur.” Her voice brought him to a standstill, and he turned back with obvious reluctance.

“Maliha,” hissed Renuka, “you cannot speak to him, people will see.”

Maliha stopped. “Tell me, cousin, what is said about me behind my back?”

Renuka looked embarrassed and did not meet Maliha’s gaze.

“So how much worse will my reputation be if I choose to speak to a man in the street?”

“A little worse,” said Renuka.

Maliha smiled. “Yes, perhaps a little worse but it is a burden I am prepared to carry. You can always say that you warned me and tried to act as a chaperone.”

“But I’m younger than you.”

“But you tried.” She turned back to the soldier and realised he would not have understood a word since they had not been speaking French. She changed gears.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

#saturdayscenes #steampunk #murder #thriller
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This cover is gorgeous! 
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Amazon's New Review Rules: The changes and how they affect authors. Don't get your reviews removed because you don't know the rules.
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Steve's Collections
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Web Dev | Writer | Creator of Universes
Introduction
By working day I'm a contract web developer. This means I move around from company to company building websites. By night I'm a writer of Fantasy and Science Fiction, currently focussing on Steampunk - though unlike any you may (or may not) have read before. I am also a screenwriter and sometime poet.

MY BOOKS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

All my steampunk stories are set in the same alternate world where, in 1843, Sir Michael Faraday demonstrated his Principle for the Partial Nullification of the Effects of Gravity. All the stories take place after that. The stories are mostly in three series:

The Maliha Anderson Series (15+)
The Iron Pegasus Series (11+)
The Frozen Beauty Series (13+)
Fantasy

And the pure fantasy Patterner's Path series:
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Or you can sign-up to my newsletter and get the first two Frozen Beauty books free. The newsletter comes out every two weeks and contains interviews with other authors, little tidbits of possible interest plus news about my writing - and no hard sell.

Circle me:
  • Screenwriting (TV & Film)
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Two brilliant kids - and a best friend I've been married to for 30 years.
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Steve Turnbull's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
Free Fax • Free Internet Faxing
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Free Internet Faxing - Send faxes to anywhere in the U.S. and Canada for free

How it all started
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In February 2013, I was on a study trip to Hong Kong with my boyfriend. We wanted to study urbanism there, but soon got caught into the vibr

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Bradshaw's illustrated guide to Manchester
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Shop Google Play on the web. Purchase and enjoy instantly on your Android phone or tablet without the hassle of syncing.

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News and Information for the Steampunk Community

Steampunk Arts
www.howtobearetronaut.com

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6-AmXihFsU 'For years, Steampunk has been a creative lens through which artists and designers re-imagine mo

‘Starcrash’, 1979
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httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzfuNSpP0RA 'Starcrash is a 1979 science fiction film. The cast included Christopher Plummer and David Hasse

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Voidships
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Tales from a steampunk world on the brink of war.

Reverse engineering science fiction stories
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I sometimes wonder, on the those rare instances when I am watching an actor watch a clip of a movie or TV show that they've been in, if the

Core i5 vs. Core i7: What's the Difference?
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Since its release in early September, 2009, the Core i5 has been branded as the mainstream version of Intel's Core i7. So what are the real

Video Game Writing and the Sense of Story [Writing] - What Games Are
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Game writing struggles with the contradictions of storytelling because the approach is wrong. The right approach is storysensing, not storyt