Concerning Space Ghosts, Miracle Drugs, and Vampires

Here we are again! But if you're just joining me that's fine too. Here's a brief catch-up from last time:

Last post, I gave a special teaser for my recently released full-length fantasy, Nameless! At the end, I also promised I'd give a teaser for my brand-new sci-fi, Dark Around the Stars. Well, today's the day!


But first... (I know, it's like trying to read an online recipe)


One of the many things I do as a creative is consult with other people. Typically, I enjoy helping others. Usually, it's all fine and dandy, smiles-had-by-all. But sometimes things go wrong. Now, I would like to say I've learned a thing or two over the years, some by painful trial and error, and some by listening to others who have gone on before. A while back, I decided to try my hand at ghostwriting (That's where you're essentially writing someone else's story for them). We had our agreement all signed and payment arranged. We established the range of creative freedom I had. We even established regular check-ins to ensure we were on the same page. For a year, everything was going great!


Until...


I finished the rough draft and even presented it to the client on their birthday. They rejected the entire story. They complained that it was nothing like what they had actually wanted (despite 12 months of faithful check-ins). The whole relationship soured and the deal was off. In the end, though, I was able to keep the story after changing it.

When I was finally able to release Dark Around the Stars a few months back I wanted people to hate it with me (in solidarity, of course). I wanted to be able to have a whole cheer section of people vigorously shaking their heads and crossing their arms sternly with me. But then, to my shock, horror, and amusement it started selling.


Ugh. Success. I hate it.


So, here's to an originally ghost-written, heavily-redone near-future sci-fi with miracle drugs gone horribly wrong. And no, I'm not ghostwriting for anyone ever again. Enjoy the teaser (or something):



Chapter One


“Ugh… no GPS signal out here!”

“You know no one uses GPS anymore, right? – it’s archaic stuff our parents used to play around with…”

“Hey, the 2010’s are coming back, just you wait!”

Lindsey shook her head, “Just because you keep saying that doesn’t exactly make it true, you know.”

Her husband ignored her and kept hiking, holding up a slim metal phone, searching desperately for signal.

“Zo. Hey, Lorenzo! Just because you lose grid connection for five minutes in the mountains,” Lindsey henpecked.

“Got to be signal somewhere,” Lorenzo muttered, keeping his eyes fixed on his signal bars, “The G57 tech conference promised 100% Grid Connection… the Santa Fe National Forest, not excluding.”

Lindsey stopped for some water, taking in the view. All around them, the rugged mountains of northern New Mexico spread out before them. Towering Ponderosa pines, Aspens, white pines, and Pinon trees speckled the hills which undulated out until they faded into hazy desert away to the south and west. If she squinted and shaded her eyes, Lindsey could make out the sparkle where the Rio Grande river caught the hot southern sun.

“Or, you could… you know, actually enjoy our hike?” Lindsey quipped.

No answer.

“Zo?”

Nothing.

Lindsey pulled herself away from the enchanting landscape and instead began searching for her tech-obsessed husband. “Lorenzo? Hey, where’d you go?” Not seeing him, she scrambled down a hill, then spotted her quarry. There, just along the next undulating mountain-rise, she spotted her husband’s black hair and tanned, New Mexican skin… “descended from the Conquistadors, my ass…” she muttered, “Man couldn’t find the nearest Whataburger without Siri navigating him through the drive-thru and ordering a green chile cheeseburger for him…”

Doing her best to avoid copses of Yucca and patches of spiky goatheads, Lindsey finally made it to the top with only minor cuts on her hands, panting next to her mesmerized other-half. “What? You find a Google Store or something?”

Lorenzo shook his head but remained silent. He had already put away his phone for the first time during their hike.

“What? What’s so…”

Lorenzo pointed.

There, where the land finally more or less leveled out, was a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire. Just beyond the angry-looking ‘Government Property – Keep Out’ was… well, a thing.

“What do you think it is?” Lorenzo asked, in a voice little above a whisper.

“I… I’m not sure…” Lindsey answered, likewise, “but it’s looking right at us.”

“It’s a… it kind of looks like a, I don’t even know what it looks like…”

The thing stopped grazing off the meager New Mexican turf-grass, yellowed from the early Autumn sun and moved closer to the fence. It eyed the two hikers with mild curiosity, blinking its large brown doe-eyes up innocently at them.

AAACHOOO! “Damn ragweed pollen counts,” she muttered.

“Look! It didn’t run off. Hey, I bet you it’s been around people before,” Lorenzo noted.

The thing, while initially startled by the sudden noise, again moved near the fence. When neither hiker made to move, it benignly returned to munching the long grass growing between the chain-links.

“You think maybe Javier would know about it?” Lorenzo asked.

“I betchyou he would – remember that one time at Bosque Brewing when he was telling us about all that crazy genetics stuff they were experimenting on up at Los Alamos?” Lindsey said.

Lorenzo nodded.

“I’m gonna get closer – it looks friendly enough…” said Lindsey as she moved slowly towards the creature on the other side of the fence.

Zo stiffened but nodded. His hand drifted down to his pocket, soon producing his phone once more. “Get close so I can get a good picture of it for Javier.”

“Ok,” Lindsey replied distractedly, “She’s… she’s like a cow with those horns, but, then she’s slight like a deer.”

She?”

Lindsey ignored him, “but she acts like a horse. Her ears move like one, too.”

Sure enough, the creature lifted its head as the stranger approached. Initially unsure, she relaxed when Lindsey offered her some grass to eat and began happily munching once more. As best she could, Lindsey pushed her fingers through one of the chain-link holes and began petting the strange animal hybrid’s muzzle.

The animal sniffed. Then, dropping the tuffet of grass it had been happily chewing, it began nuzzling and snuffling the woman’s open hand.

“Careful…” Zo warned.

“Aw, she’s ok… seems friendly enough.”

Lick lick lick

“Definitely been around people before.”

Lick lick lick

Lindsey laughed, “Ooh – hah… it tickles.”

Lorenzo neared, taking in the scene through his phone lens, “You cut yourself, Linds?”

Lindsey shrugged, “Yeah, back on the rocks looking for you.”

“I think it… I mean she knows you’re hurt… look, it’s, I mean she, keeps lapping up at your cuts.”

“My, what beautiful eyes you have!” Linsey cooed, “Zo, look at her eyes! They’re all silver – no color at all.”

Lick lick lick

Lick lick

The winds shifted. Trees bowed as the dry east wind raced through. “It’s getting pretty late – we probably ought to head back to the car… especially if we want to get back to Albuquerque before dark,” Lorenzo said.

Lick lick lick

“Linds?”

“I’m… trying,” Lindsey laughed. “She just won't stop licking my cuts.”

Lick lick lick

“Come on,” Lorenzo laughed. “Time to say adios.”

“I can’t… my wedding ring is stuck on the fence, and she won’t stop licking, either!”

Lick LICK LICK LICK

With an effort, Lorenzo managed to unhook the ring from the fence, and his wife came tumbling backward. For a moment, the creature stared mournfully after them (or, more exactly, after the blood dribbling from Lindsey’s hand).

“Hey Zo, you got a bandage in that backpack of yours?”

“Sure thing.”

The couple turned their back on the mysterious fence, but not before Lindsey turned around one last time, “Bye sweetie! Be good!”

But the animal simply blinked lazily, before returning to licking and biting the bits of fence still wet with human blood. And as the couple threaded their way back through the hills, the single sound breaking the sylvan silence faded away:

LICK

LICK

LICK.



If you still want to read Dark Around the Stars, you can pick it up at Organic Books in Albuquerque, or buy it HERE.


While I'm done ghostwriting, I do still enjoy consulting for writers and podcasters, as well as offering freelance marketing help. Just shoot me an email HERE.


Until next time, happy reading...


- Ryan

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