Many and One: A Unisphere Story

I just published the first story in my new Unisphere series on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. The story is in eBook form and can be bought on all Kindle devices. You can also get in on your PC, Mac, and any other devices by downloading Amazon’s free Kindle app.

The story follows Skot Magadan, an investigator with Unisphere Stemworks, as he tracks down a brain-hacker who has been using his company’s implant technology to steal people’s thoughts. He’s taken down quite a few hackers in his day, but something about this one is different.

Get it here!

Here’s an excerpt.

“One more,” Skot told himself, halfway up the fourth flight of steps. “Just one more.” He needed the reassurance; he was gasping and wheezing so bad he thought he might not reach the sixth floor.

But he did reach it, pouring sweat and panting like an old, obese dog in high summer. Skot wasn’t old or fat yet, but he was neither as young nor as fit as he had been when he started this job. In twelve years, though, he had never encountered a residential building without an elevator. Even the low-rent historic buildings downtown had installed lifts decades ago. In modern society stairs were a novelty, a useless relic of an inconvenient world, like the working telephone he’d noticed down near the entrance.

This place is more suitable for rats than humans, he thought, stopping to catch his breath before he continued his hunt for what he was sure was the biggest, hairiest rat in here.

As he leaned against the wall of the 6th floor hallway, the words “Incoming call” flashed on his retinal display, accompanied by a low beeping in his head. “Answer,” he said, activating the communication channel on his mindstem implant.

“All right there, Skot?” The face that appeared on his display was that of his supervisor, the head of his investigation unit at Unisphere Stemworks.

Stairs, Martin,” Skot said, still breathing deeply. “I think I’m going to have a stroke. This place has no elevator. Can you believe that?”

“Old building,” Martin said, his shrug just visible in Skot’s field of view. “So look, before you get into things over there, senior management looked into this case, and they requested you send a live video feed back here when you confront the target.”

“Live video feed?”

“Yeah. With your lens. They sounded concerned about safety.” Martin didn’t sound like he shared that concern. “This guy could be dangerous, apparently. They want to monitor the confrontation and apprehension.”

“Okay,” Skot said slowly. “That shouldn’t be a problem.” He always used his retinal lens camera to document investigations, but he had never used a live feed before. He had only ever heard of that being done on the big international raids of hacker compounds overseas. “Is management really that worried? I couldn’t find anything to be concerned about in my investigation; just that this guy is really good at brain-hacking.”

“Well, turns out they upgraded the threat potential. He’s a high risk, to you and to Unisphere.”

“I see.”

“Keep in mind,” Martin said, his face stretched in a shallow grin, “this is a big one. Maybe it’s just a safety precaution, but if management wants to watch firsthand, they might be thinking about a promotion. You’re due, aren’t you?”

“I don’t know,” Skot said with obvious sarcasm. “Twelve years. You tell me.”

Martin chuckled. “Yeah, I’d say so. Listen, good luck, be safe, and don’t screw up.”

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OverSharing (See Explanation)

This one’s a bit late…

Way back at the end of October last year, I sent my story OverSharing to for their “future of privacy” prompt for November publication. I never heard back from them and waited until November had come and passed before I gave it up as another rejection. I thought about querying, but it was pointless since the story was written for a specific prompt. I put the story out of mind…

Then we come to last night. I was Googling myself for fun (oh, come on, you all do it), and in the third page of results I found a link to InfectiveINK. Following the link I found to my utter bewilderment that OverSharing had been published on November 28. I have no clue how it took me over five months to figure this out, but whatever, here it is:

After the first hour of waiting for the doctor Kieva began to wish she had scheduled an appointment. She had fallen asleep in her invitingly comfortable armchair last night (something she was increasingly prone to) and, upon waking up with her tablet in her hands, had immediately gone to the eHealth Webdr site. Apparently 8 a.m. wasn’t early enough anymore to beat the millions of patients who clogged the site around midday.

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So what did I learn? Well, I’m not sure. I don’t think there’s anything I could have done differently besides checking the site regularly or querying too soon and seeming overly eager. I talked with the INK team and it seems the emails they sent me never went through. Sometimes communication breaks down. For this story I really wanted a final revision, and I would have loved to have used InfectiveINK on my publication history for story submissions up to now. But this is the way things worked out. I accept that.

At least I have a pretty good story now for when people ask how my writing is going.


Before the Last Hope Leaves

My story “Before the Last Hope Leaves” was published in Bewildering Stories issue 567.

“Notification: Citizen 23015-Kasti is approaching. Intention: Personal interaction.” The silky voice of my room’s AI pulls me out of some dark internal chasm where I’ve been hiding. “Can you lock the door?” I say without so much as turning my head. I thought Kasti would be in cold-sleep by now.

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