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"Nick King crouched on the top of the Benghazi Medical Center under a collage of stars peeking in behind wisps of reddish-brown dust with a sniper rifle in his right hand."
--Steven G. Jackson, author of Zeus Payload. For more information, visit www.stevengjackson.com
"That bone of fear first hung in my throat when I was five. I couldn't breathe."
--Lamb Lambert, author of Badge of Color, Breaking the Silence: A Documented Memoir. For more information, visit www.lamblambertauthor.com
"My eyes shot open. A cold, biting breeze brushed my cheek, and I shivered at the dampness seeping into my skin."
--Darlene Quinn, author of Webs of Perception, Book 6. For more information, visit www.darlenequinn.net
"The rucksack of dynamite pulled on my shoulders with each step through the Alpen tunnel. Chilling panic shot up my neck each time I pumped the bomb against the icy rock wall."
--Michael Jarvis, author of French Roll: Misadventures in Love, Life, and Roller Skating Across the French Riviera. For more information, visit www.JMichaelJarvis.com
Leonard Szymczak, Bob Cratchit's Christmas Carol
On Christmas Eve, 1843, in a rundown part of London, a solitary man, wearing a tattered coat, scribbled on a ledger. Bob Cratchit shivered in his tiny office, which felt more like his prison cell. Lit by a sole candle and furnished with a rickety wooden chair and a scruffy desk, the office had a small fireplace. Bob had to nurse his daily allotment of coal which barely warmed the fireplace throughout the cold winter's day. He dared not use more than one lump of coal at a time, for his miserly employer complained bitterly that he wasted precious fuel.
Jen Rogers, We Almost Didn't Make It to Canyonlands Alive
Had you asked me the night before what I felt like doing in the morning, my answer would have been an exhausted, irritated sideways glance, and a sarcastic, "Nothing!" We'd been hiking for hours. The sun had long since set and the cairns our headlamps searched for in the dark would've been hard to find under a bright afternoon sun. We'd already trekked about 8 miles and had lost track of time taking too many photos of the beautiful sandstone bridges we came across before the sun went down. Of course, we had thought nothing of it an hour earlier. I mean, a night hike under the stars in beautiful red rock canyons under a full moon sounded nothing short of magical. It's not like we had never done it before. We were prepared.
Jack Martin, Murder on the March
Bierce looked behind him and could just make out in the dim pre-dawn light the gaggle of horsemen on a small hill, less than a mile away. He knew that would be the cautious, majestic Thomas; his two corps commanders, the flamboyant Hooker and the morose Davis; and a crowd of aides, messengers, and assorted hangers-on. A quarter-mile closer, he could just make out the batteries of three-inch guns, assembled courtesy of Colonel J. Howard Kitching, Hooker's chief of artillery. Lying on the ground in his front and to his sides were huddled masses of blue-clad infantry, grimly clutching Springfield muzzle-loaders. Over them stood their officers, who seemed to the cynical Bierce to be already assuming heroic poses appropriate to the illustrated magazines.
Leif Beiley, Voyage to Crusoe (Chapter 10)
In the outskirts of Antofagasta, a dusty industrial city on the northern coast of Chile, Yori Santos Lobos sat at a desk in a dingy second-floor office of a slaughterhouse. A large plate-glass window offered an expansive view of the floor below. If he wanted to, he could watch the workers in bloody aprons manhandle freshly butchered sides of beef hanging from meat hooks on a conveyor line. The high-pitched wail of industrial bone saws and the stench of death nearly made him gag, but he was determined to appear nonchalant while he counted the money. Two hundred thousand US dollars, twenty packets of hundred-dollar bills. They made a tidy stack that fit nicely in his small canvas valise. He zipped it shut and hefted it in his left hand. It would be easy enough to handle.
Sherrie Miranda, Crimes and Impunity in New Orleans
As I lie there trying to sleep, I am suddenly aware of how stupid I've been. I replay every interaction with Rajib. How, as soon as he saw me, he treated me differently than everyone else. How quickly he decided he wanted me to be the head bartender. I thought it was because I'm from New York. For many people here, New York automatically means New York City. I wouldn't do that to Claire, even if she did leave me alone with him.
I was drugged. It must have been chloroform. That's why I fell asleep. That's why I don't remember him dropping them off. Oh my God, I'm lucky he didn't rape me.
D. A. Chase, Fall Walk into the Past
"So, are you excited about Thanksgiving?" Dawn asked.
"No," the older sister replied. "I don't get why decorating for Fall is so important," Darcy untangled the plastic vines of leaves from the tub Mom kept for their Autumn display.
Dawn sighed. "Let's take a Fall Walk and look for anything of a color other than green," she said putting her construction paper project on the table.
Leif Beiley, Darien, A Novel
In the cold predawn hours, combat units of the Chilean Army assembled in the Plaza Bolivar, less than a mile from La Moneda, the Presidential Palace. Infantry soldiers nervously checked their weapons and waited for orders to move out. Their commander, General Arellano, his breath turning to fog in the cold morning air, waited impatiently for General Pinochet to give the signal to attack.
In the Palace, President Salvador Allende sat at his desk staring straight ahead as his security chief made his report.
Jack Martin, Destroyer of Worlds
Inside the book-lined library of the rambling two-story house, four men of middle age sat conversing in German. Three of them sat in comfortable old armchairs that had been dragged into a semi-circle in front of the room's large, battered desk. The owner of the house, a kind man with wild greying hair, sat behind the desk, puffing on a pipe, idly toying with a golden Nobel Prize medal. The three visitors in cheap, rumpled suits refrained from smoking, unconsciously agreeing with each other that adding to the smoke emanating from their host's pipe would quickly render the room's air poisonous.
L.S. Cohen, The Impossible Max Langanyorn
Max Langanyorn was 125. When he was younger, around 90, he would say, upon meeting you or anyone else, "I'm Max Langanyorn and I am living my life to the Max. Get it?"
After he reached 115, Max, in truth, wasn't feeling so spry anymore, so he stopped introducing himself by saying he was living to the Max. He thought about saying he was living a little less than the Max. But he didn't think anyone would get it. True, he was still calling Sylvia, his next-door neighbor every few days for a mutually enjoyable romantic "you-know-what-wink, wink" rendezvous. That didn't mean he wanted to get into a relationship. Sylvia agreed relationships were complicated. At Max's age you never know.
Russ Thompson, No Place to Hide
ENGLISH. Period six. I know I'm not a good reader. But I know how to cover it up.
I smile at the teachers, keep my hand down, print neatly, and nod when they explain things.
I'm in the tenth grade now, so I've been doing it for a long time.
The teacher comes to the front of the classroom. We have a sub again.
Ron Singerton, A Blossom in the Ashes
The torpedo planes had failed; it was the SBD Dauntless dive bomber's turn next. Again, Mitsubishi Zeros tore upward to challenge the Americans. Tad spotted a Zero targeting a Dauntless; he shoved the nose around and pulled hard as he rolled in on the Zero. Sensing danger, the Zero pilot turned toward Tad who managed to get off a burst. Smoke then flames bloomed from its fuel tanks, turning the Zero into a lethal orange-red-black flower as it plummeted toward the water.
P.J. Colando, Jailbird's Jackpot
I am free, released from the Pen early due to my uncommonly good behavior. Good behavior as an artifact of laser-like focus on a goal: to take Travis Castro down.
Does Castro sound like 'castrate' to you, too?
Jeremiah Cobra, And Then He Shot His Cousin
One bullet into his chest. One glimpse of light into the darkness. One heart torn apart. What's funny is though Justice Rooks lay in that darkness, bleeding onto the street that was already shimmering wet from the rain, it was I who could not move. He did plenty of moving-heaving and writhing from the pain and all that. But I stood perfectly still, watching his blood and the rain turn the asphalt into a black river beneath the street lamps. I might have walked on this river, walked away on its currents of light. Instead, I could only stare into the darkness as police sirens wailed in the distance. I did not even lower the hand that held the gun that fired into my cousin's chest.
Lillian Nader, For All the Times . . .
For all the times I wished for more time, I have it now.
For all the times I promised to slow down Now's the time to enjoy each moment.
For all the times I said I would call, I joyfully reach out to loved ones.
For all the times I vowed to finish writing my play, The time is now.
For all the books I've wanted to read, It's time to read them now.
Leif Beiley, Voyage to Crusoe (Chapter 1)
Cliff Demont eased his silver Porsche off the two-lane blacktop road and onto the rutted gravel driveway. The car bounced along the ruts a hundred yards and came to a stop near the concrete foundation of an old farmhouse that had burned down long ago. It was mid-November and dappled morning sunlight filtered through the leaves of a magnificent oak tree that stood in the middle of what had once been the home's front yard. Beyond the tree, the land sloped downward toward Highway 101, a quarter mile away.
Don Westenhaver, Missing Star
"John Barrymore? You kissed the handsomest man in the world?"
Olivia, sweet and stout, was on Household Staff, so she was allowed more freedom than Customer Service ladies like Joyce. The six housekeepers cleaned the rooms of the main house, cooked meals, trimmed plants in the gardens, and washed the voluminous laundry. They slept in a guest house on the estate grounds and enjoyed heavily supervised outings in the real world.
Sulan Dun, Double Bind Blind
Archeologist Barrghlim sat back on his tentacles and wheezed a long sigh out his blowhole. How was he supposed to document this whole society in only three days? He sifted through the remains of the data center he'd excavated beneath the stealth shield. This was the most significant find of his career but to his Commander archeology was just a lot of nuisance paperwork. The priority was to get on with exterminating the planet's inhabitants in preparation for colonization.
Amy Hollingsworth, The Descent
I'm not the kind of guy who likes to go on long hikes because I'm just not the kind of guy who likes to be in pain. And trust me, those exist. You know, those guys who go to the gym and lift weights until they scream. Or those guys who give up hamburgers because their girlfriends said red meat is bad.
Vivian Elaine Johnson, The Benediction
George raised his thin arms. In a whisper of a voice and while seated in a wheelchair, he prayed the benediction over those of us attending a seminar:
May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord's face shine upon you.
May the Lord's countenance be lifted upon you,
and give you peace.
The words, and the heart from which they came, brought moisture to my eyes and slipped down my cheeks. George, at 87 and in ill health, has been my husband and a pastor for sixty years.
Fred Klein: Project MK Ultra, The Revenge
Moscow KGB headquarters November, 1970
Vladimir Molokov walked out to the training gym and looked for Agent FP now Frank Young.
"Comrade Young, good work again on your informants. They will be valuable to our efforts," remarked Molokov.
"Thank you, sir," replied Young.
"Have you kept up with your physical training and your martial arts?"
"Yes, I have been trained in karate, judo, boxing, and knife fighting."
"Good you may need that on your next assignment. In any case we have a change of venue for you this time. Have you ever been to Paris?"
A.E. Wasserman: "There Are Three of Us"
There are three of us leaning on the white board fence, watching the horses play in the pasture.
We are quiet, enjoying the moment.
There are three of us.
We watch as a yearling Trakehner colt breaks from his trot, digging in with his hind legs to take off at full gallop. He is lovely. His young muscles work hard under his bright chestnut coat. His eyes are shining, full of both joy and mischief. Equivalent to a teenage boy, he has energy, spirit and naughty written all over him.