I made a new cover for this story, so this week’s excerpt comes from Nightmares along with a close-up of the picture I’m far too proud of making. Is it pathetic and amateur? Maybe. Probably. I loved the original and still do. So why change it? Because I crave change. I rearrange furniture, re-organize dresser drawers and cabinets, and change out pictures. Not a shocker that I also get the itch to switch up book covers.
Not a huge surprise that I write about people struggling with disrupted lives, either. Enjoy this tiny little sample.
Amy said, “You don’t walk home alone, not wearing a pacifier around your neck. Want to leave with me, or wait ‘til last call and let Sergeant Jackass escort you?”
The dance floor was empty, and only a few tables were still occupied. Sgt. Coby and a T-series woman Kris didn’t recognize were deep in conversation in a booth. There was no reason to stay, and every reason to leave. “I’ll come with you, but I’m warning you now, it won’t work.”
“You’re going to spend the whole walk trying to talk me into transferring back. It won’t work.”
Amy grinned. “Smartypants. See why I want you on my team?”
They were nearly to the door when the plan fell apart. Two teleporters in uniform appeared back-to-back in the middle of the dance floor. One was looking straight at Kris.
“Locked,” she said, and the partner facing the other side of the room said, “Confirm lock.” The world turned inside out, and Kris sank knee-deep in snow.
Amy fell on her butt in a drift. “What the actual fuck?” she said, and the ‘porters disappeared.
A sphere of dim red light floated overhead, illuminating a fifty foot circle of snow well enough make out the crates stacked at the center. Kris’s breath clouded the air in front of her face, clearing when she took in a lungful of searing cold. Her skin automatically rippled and thickened in response, and she held her breath waiting until she was sure the pacifier collar would not punish her for the protective reflex.
Alarm klaxons and sirens wailed in the distance. Lieutenant Akron’s voice shouted orders nearby in the dark. The lit circle had the look of a night operation in progress, but that was where familiarity ended. But I’m off-duty was Kris’s first thought, followed by, And I’m restricted. And this isn’t even my unit any more.
Confusion was no excuse for inaction. Kris turned to check her six. Sergeant Coby had been scooped up too. All around, porters popped in with passengers and out again. Most of the arrivals were as inappropriately dressed as Kris was. Pinpoints of light flared and disappeared far out in the darkness too: Marines ’porting into perimeter positions. It was definitely a major op of some kind. A lumpy object fell out of nowhere, and she automatically lifted her arms to catch it.
Beside her, Amy cradled her own bundle of boots, harness and weapons. A pale figure who looked like an albino fox in a uniform trotted past in the distant gloom. Amy took a deep breath and bellowed, “LT, what the fuck is going on?”
“Shut up, suit up, and pump up,” Lieutenant Akron called back. “Brief in five.”
“Aye-aye, sir.” Amy shook her head and started dressing.
(EDIT: this story is now available only as part of the collected Rough Passages).
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