Stuart Roth Brings Elementals and Clones to the Middle of Eternity

Our Kickstarter campaign to bring you volume two of our Middle of Eternity anthology series has managed to raise approximately $1,348. However, we have only 8 days left to raise  the remaining $1,152 to meet our goal. Otherwise, the project will not be funded at all. If you’re considering whether to back our project, please click here to check out the various donation levels and the rewards we’re offering on Kickstarter.  We deeply appreciate your support!

Up next in our author interview series for the upcoming release of Elsewhere in the Middle of Eternity is returning author Stuart S. Roth.

Stuart  is a pragmatic optimist with a pessimistic streak living in the Northeastern United States. Happily married and settled, he now cranks out periodic short stories and is finalizing a novel for publication.Stuart Roth

Having been a lifelong amateur writer, Stuart currently toils in the real-world occupation of finance and accounting. This career unwittingly gave a jump-start to his creative avocation by allowing him to travel the world as an auditor. Over a two-year period he visited 14 countries and got to experience a much larger world. Some Indiana Jones like exploits included: concussing himself on a beam moments before introducing himself to the local management team; conducting an IT Audit in Morocco without speaking Arabic — to a staff who didn’t speak English! — and presiding over an assignment in Vietnam while suffering from dehydration and the effects of malaria pills. To this day he cannot watch Apocalypse Now without having flashbacks to Nam: “The heat, the humidity… the horrible accounting”.

Returning for another intrepid jaunt across the Middle of Eternity, you bring us two amazing stories with “The Willow Tree” and “The Mule.” Please tell us what inspired each of these tales.

First off, I would like to thank you and Firebringer Press for inviting me back for the second volume. I really enjoyed the first collaboration and look forward to seeing the results from this effort.

The setting and characters of “The Willow Tree” were inspired by time I spent in Louisiana and a bit from the late Harper Lee’s novel “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Louisiana has a different flavor than the Northeastern US where I have lived most of my life. The plot came about when I read about weeping willow trees and how their roots get into everything from ponds and streams to septic tanks and plumbing. Willow trees with their waving branches create a dreamy, ethereal world beneath their shadow. What better to live in such a world than a kappa from Japanese folklore. Kappa’s are water spirits. Parents warn their young children not to play in streams and ponds unattended or the kappa will get them. It is a coming of age story where childhood is filled with the joys of day, but the shadow of fears.

“The Mule” is a timely story in regards to the current migrant crisis facing Europe, but it was written well before the Syrian crisis. Europe in recent times has espoused certain values, condemning or putting down other countries for what they consider failures in liberalistic values, but in reality, their own actions have not met with the high standards they claim to have for themselves. “The Mule” concerns a woman who is the daughter of “The Two Hundred”, two hundred clones provided to infertile couples by an geneticist. The children of the clones were all said to be sterile, but one woman has given birth to a son. The story is about her struggle to save his life in a less than caring European Union.

You completed a brilliant science fiction novel called Myomria that is currently in submission to a publisher. As one of your beta readers, I am still in awe of the story’s originality. Without giving too much away, what can you tell us about the world of Myomria?

Thank you for the compliment. “Myomria” and its potential sequel “Oubliette” will, if they make it to print, be my reason for being (at least in writing matters). Myomria is a world of changing realities, where people can conspire to change the past simply by thinking or re-weaving it. The consequence of this is that reality itself becomes unstable. The leaders of this world know that chaos is coming. They need a new reality and a new writer of fiction to return the world to stability. Into this world are introduced men and women from earth. They come from a timeline where Napoleon was never defeated and where his heirs have gone on to conquer space. But when reality can be re-woven by the will of the powerful, who can tell what is real and what isn’t any longer.

Where else have you been published and what new projects are you working on?

A sequel to “The Willow Tree” has made it to audio in the Cattail Country Store series created by Steve Wilson. It is called “Spanish Moss” and deals with the aftermath of events in “The Willow Tree”. Spanish moss is even more iconic in the south than weeping willows. The story deals with a legend involving Carmelite nuns who died during the French Revolution and an old box that has been sitting in a Louisiana church. Steve’s audio really brings out the ghostly tones I was hoping to capture in the story.

I have recently had a story called “Circular Logic” accepted in an anthology being published by Pseudoscope Press. “Time Shadows: Into the Abyss” is a Doctor Who anthology being produced for charity. It is due to debut sometime in April in the UK, Canada and US and will raise money for prosthetics research. It has been an exciting project because it allowed me to delve into established science fiction characters and color in someone else’s coloring book. The challenge is to tell a new story, but keep the characters and situations true to the original creators’ vision of them.

What does Stuart Roth do when he isn’t writing?

Part of writing is to spend a lot of time reading. I have found the joys of my local library and have been reading as much as I can on a variety of topics. It is important to read a large variety of things. It gives you knowledge of subjects that help populate the worlds you build in your writing. For example, I personally may not be interested in sumo wrestling, but one of my stories features a man whose whole life is driven by the sport. In order to tell such a story, I need to research sumo and take an interest in it. That’s why reading is so important to writing.

As for the rest of my life, currently, I am experiencing the pleasures and pains of life as a finance analyst for a national company. I am married to my beautiful wife, Maria, and we live in the northeastern US, where, as of this writing, we have finally seen the last of the 27 inches of snow that fell a couple of weeks ago.

 

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The Middle of Eternity, Illustrated by Mike Riehl

The good news is that our Kickstarter campaign to bring you volume two of our Middle of Eternity anthology series has managed to raise approximately $1,210! However, we have only 10 days left to raise  the remaining $1,290 to meet our goal. Otherwise, the project will not be funded at all. If you’re considering whether to back our project, please click here to check out the various donation levels and the rewards we’re offering on Kickstarter.  We deeply appreciate your support!

Over the past two weeks on this blog, I’ve posted samples of two out of the 14 stories from our upcoming anthology, Elsewhere in the Middle of Eternity.

I’ve also posted interviews with five of our nine authors, which will resume in a few days. For now, I hope you’ll indulge me as I proudly show off the stunning artwork of Michael Riehl.

Mike’s amazing talents, whether on the canvas or on hand-painted ornaments, has brought him immense popularity at Christmas shows as well as SF and horror conventions such as Shore Leave, Chiller Theatre, and Monster Mania.

Our Kickstarter video includes some images of Mike’s work from our first volume, Somewhere in the Middle of Eternity. We’re excited to have him back to provide visuals for Elsewhere in the Middle of Eternity.  As a preview, below are four of the 14 interior illustrations that Mike has created for the new volume.  Enjoy!

Tree of Love Illustration

Making Tracks Illustration

Terror in Agradeb Illustration

Hard Place Illustration

 

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April Welles Brings Ancient Terror to the Middle of Eternity

The good news is that our Kickstarter campaign to bring you volume two of our Middle of Eternity anthology series has managed to raise nearly $1,200! However, we have only 11 days left to raise  the remaining $1,300 to meet our goal. Otherwise, the project will not be funded at all. If you’re considering whether to back our project, please click here to check out the various donation levels and the rewards we’re offering on Kickstarter.  We deeply appreciate your support!

Another newcomer to the Middle of Eternity series is April Welles. I met April in 2007 at the Wonderfest SF convention in Louisville, KY which is focused on the hobby of science fiction model kit building, something April and I share, although I readily admit that her kitbashing skills exceed my own. April Welles

It was not until perhaps two years ago when I crossed virtual paths with April on Facebook that I learned she was also a writer. I asked if I might read some of her work and was impressed with the stories she sent to me. So much so, that I invited her to join us for Elsewhere in the Middle of Eternity. Let’s chat with April a bit…

Welcome to your first plunge into the Middle of Eternity! We’re thrilled to have you with us. As with the first volume of this series, our writers once again bring us tales from across the galaxy, but also from around our own globe. Yours is the first to take place in the Middle East.

What was the inspiration behind “Terror in Agradeb”?

Honestly, the inspiration came about from a variety of things.

Many years ago when I first created the creature/monster/god Al-Penub-Shé. he came about as the masculine version of another being I created named Shadanu (from another story of mine, ‘The Horror of the Mist’, published a few years ago). They do not come from the same planet or dimension. But they are similar in that they are both gigantic, sentient cloud beings. She is acidic mist, while he is a sandstorm.

The next inspiration came from recent world events. Primarily the Media always telling the Western public that Middle Easterners, and all those of the Muslim faith, are insane terrorists.

Which is why I also made the comparison with American Christians.

Primarily, that not all are bad people. Just a small, very vocal, number of religious people are crazy fanatics who want to kill others who do not share their extreme beliefs.

The media has taken the small numbers and made them appear to be the dominant in the world. Regardless of facts in order to promote a story for ratings and fear.

That is all that those tales of extremists destroying the world is. A story. A fabrication; “You provide the pictures, I’ll provide the war.”

Most people around the world are kind, caring, generous people who just want to live in peace. Regardless of anyone’s spiritual or religious beliefs.

The media would have us believe the opposite.

My final inspiration was due to my frustration with misogyny. The idiotically pervasive belief that females are merely useless creatures, or at best, property. Not thinking, caring, powerful humans. Equals.

We are all human beings. Regardless of gender, pigment, orientation, or even spiritual or religious beliefs. We are all living beings and as such equal. Deserving of compassion and respect.

That is why, by the very end of the story, even the male lieutenant utilizing the spell to fight the terrorists loses. The beings are too powerful and unknown for either gender to control. Yet they both want to help and bring peace.

Where else have you been published? Do you have any writing projects underway?

I have been published in two titles of three other magazines. Which can be found on Amazon. The first are Fantasy Times Issue 1 and Fantasy Times Issue 2 (both of which I helped edit). The second title is Pure Fantasy and Sci-Fi Volume 2.

All three can be purchased from Amazon in Kindle format. Pure Fantasy and Sci-Fi Volume 2 can also be purchased in paperback.

I am in the process of a number of ideas. A few more Paraterrestrial Horror tales. Some being jotted down, and a few still playing around in my head.

My biggest problem is which one to start working on, and which ones to set aside for the moment. All are important to me, and would, hopefully, be enjoyed.

I am just not certain which to do. It’s a vicious circle.

Are there any genres outside of SF and horror that you would like to explore as a storyteller?

Yes. There are some floating around in sort of convoluted messages within my mind. One (or two) are Fantasy tales, and potentially one Steampunk.

I have most of the characters pretty well fleshed out as well as some scenes for the Fantasy written. But then I have a couple of other characters that seem to want to be a part of that world, yet they don’t completely belong in it as they have their own story. But they do, kind of, fit within the same realm.

I haven’t started much of it due to my fears of how the story will be received. The main protagonist is, what some readers consider, taboo and a freak, and would react very unfavorably. Yet many others might see the character, and some others, as special (or even regular) people fighting for themselves and their right to live and love.

As storytellers, we want to share thoughts and ideas with people as a means to allow them to open their minds and experience other ideas and realms. But we also want to be published in order to get those, and more, stories out to readers. Yet if a publisher or editor doesn’t like something about it they will tell the writer to make changes in order to make the tale more palatable and sell-able. But often that completely changes the meaning of the story.

Fortunately, that has not happened with the editors and publishers of Elsewhere in the Middle of Eternity and Pure Fantasy and Sci-Fi. They have been very open and receptive to my ideas. For which I say ‘Thank you’.

What does April Welles do when she isn’t writing?

I walk through nature in the Pacific Northwest.

Build science fiction models (most often Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica kitbashes).

Play ‘Skyrim’ on my Xbox 360.

Watch DVDs of movies, and some comedy series that I enjoy: Whose Line is it Anyway, The Red Green Show, The Big Bang Theory, Monty Python, and a few others.

Draw sometimes.

Read.

Overall, I dream.

 

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Susanna Reilly Sparks Young Romance in the Middle of Eternity

The good news is that our Kickstarter campaign to bring you volume two of our Middle of Eternity anthology series has managed to raise nearly $1,100! However, we have only 14 days left to raise  the remaining $1,400 to meet our goal. Otherwise, the project will not be funded at all. If you’re considering whether to back our project, please click here to check out the various donation levels and the rewards we’re offering on Kickstarter.  We deeply appreciate your support!

Let’s hit the beach with our next storyteller from Elsewhere in the Middle of Eternity, Susanna Reilly!

Sue Reilly

Susanna Reilly has been enthusiastic about writing since she was named first runner up in a story-writing contest at the age of 11. For many years writing took a back seat to school, work and motherhood but the fire stayed alive. It was stoked in the late 1990s, early 2000’s when she joined a science fiction fan club that published an annual fanzine. Although the fanzine sold less than 30 copies per year (mostly to friends and family of the authors), the joy of writing stories in the Star Trek, Highlander and Stargate universes kept her going (some of those stories can still be found on www.fanfiction.net, author name SMR723). Susanna’s first professional publication came in 2013 when her short story, “To Protect and To Serve”, was included in the anthology, Unclaimed Baggage: Voices of The MainLine Writers. She subsequently published two stories (“Form and Substance” and “Perchance to Dream”) in the anthology Somewhere in the Middle of Eternity and, among other projects, has a story about to be published in the next anthology in that series, Elsewhere in the Middle of Eternity.

It’s wonderful to have you back with us for another wild ride through the Middle of Eternity. This time, you’re giving readers a splash of romance and the paranormal in “The Tree of Love”. What inspired this lovely story?

Thanks for having me back. I’m thrilled to be a part of EIME! The inspiration for the story was an ad I saw for the Rehoboth Reads contest. The theme of the contest that year was the boardwalk, so I not only needed a story set in Rehoboth Beach but as much on the boardwalk as possible. Once I had the idea of the grandmother and granddaughter sitting on the beach, the story just flowed out of me. It was a joy to write, but I got a very late start (three days before the contest deadline) and there was a strict word count limit, so the submitted draft was not as good as it could have been and was not accepted for publication. Luckily our valiant editor was one of my beta readers and immediately said if they don’t want it, please let me have it for EIME. I was very glad to do so and was especially glad to have a few extra months to polish the story and add back some of the lovely stuff I had to cut from the contest version to make word count. I am very thrilled to be a contributor to EIME among all of these exceptionally talented writers.

Where else have you been published and what can readers expect next from you?

A long, long time ago, I was published in the Norman fanzine published by the Starfleet (science fiction club) chapter, USS Thagard. We published about 30 copies of the fanzine a year with all profits going to charity. It was a fun way to develop my writing skills and become a little more familiar with the writing process. More recent credits (and ones that are still available for purchase) include a story in “Unclaimed Baggage: Voices of the Main Line Writers” and two stories in EIME’s predecessor, “Somewhere in the Middle of Eternity.”

I’m currently working on a short story for submission to the next anthology being published by the Main Line Writers Group. I’m also bouncing around an idea that may become either a full-fledged novel or a series of short stories about a secret organization that knows approximately when the end of the world is coming and is exploring every scientific avenue for saving as much of the population as possible (including time travel, alternate realities, space travel, etc.). The first story involves an agent who helps move people to alternate timelines. It’s about 95% written in my head, but finding time to get it down on the page has been a problem – one I hope to remedy soon. If the idea pans out, I may invite some of the SIME/EIME kids to come play in my universe. I think that would be a kick ass anthology all on its own.

Are there any genres that you haven’t yet written, but would like to try?

If I feel like trying a genre, I generally do. I don’t always like the results, but I’m always willing to try. For example, I’ve written about 150 pages of a novel about a teenage boy who was kidnapped by a pedophile as an 8 year old and is now returning to the “normal” world after being rescued at age 13. It’s a story that haunts me and every so often I have to go back and write some more of it even though I have concerns that, as a 53 year old woman, I’m not going to be able to write convincingly about 21st century teenagers of either gender.

What does Susanna Reilly do when she isn’t writing?

I spend way too much time at work (legal assistant for a sole practitioner attorney). When I’m not there, I try to spend as much time as I can with my two adorable grandchildren, other family members or friends. I also spend way too much time in front of the TV (but in my defense there are so many good shows on these days). Thank goodness for DVRs and the fast forward button!

 

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“Working the System” by Phil Giunta

The good news is that our Kickstarter campaign to bring you volume two of our Middle of Eternity anthology series has managed to raise nearly $1,100! However, we have only 14 days left to raise  the remaining $1,400 to meet our goal. Otherwise, the project will not be funded at all. If you’re considering whether to back our project, please click here to check out the various donation levels and the rewards we’re offering on Kickstarter.  We deeply appreciate your support!

For now, I’m excited to offer you our second story sample. “Working the System” is a science fiction tale set in the same Phil Giuntauniverse as “Water to Share”, a story I wrote for our first anthology, Somewhere in the Middle of Eternity. The events in this story are concurrent with those from the first tale about an interplanetary government that orders the destruction of all artificial intelligence…and the human casualties that result. I hope you enjoy the story and considering supporting us.  Thank you for reading!

 

 


WORKING THE SYSTEM

by Phil Giunta

The deck was littered with bodies.

At the captain’s orders, they’d been callously dumped in the cargo hold. Practically all were riddled with blaster burns. A few had been dismembered to varying degrees. The last one had lost a chunk of his head during the morning’s violent incursion in the Ghanzing Belt.

Drug lords are afforded the dignity of body bags, while our own casualties are tossed in here like garbage. As he weaved his way through the dead, Lieutenant Cameron Glazier clenched his jaw against the bile rising in his throat. He knew how the captain felt about them, but that didn’t justify this.

Wait until Michaud sees this. Glazier considered ordering body bags down here before—

“What the hell is this?”

Too late. Oliver Michaud stood in the doorway staring at the congeries of corpses. A biomechanical engineer for the Geary Corporation, Michaud had been assigned to the Kindred as a civilian contractor.

“Wasn’t my idea, Ollie,” Glazier said. “Captain’s orders.”

“This is not happening.” Michaud stormed into the hold, gaping at the scene. After brushing past Glazier, he crouched beside the last body. Delicately, he turned the man’s head to conceal the gaping wound that had been the right side of his face.

“His name was Vance. We used to play chess. Some of our games went on for weeks. He was fascinated by stories about even the most mundane things we take for granted.” Michaud looked across the hold at the others. “They’re programmed to appreciate kindness and friendship. Did you know that, Cam? In many ways, I’m more comfortable around androids than my own kind.”

“I know.” Glazier nodded solemnly. “They were good…people. They fought well. Sorry you had to see this, Ollie. How are the survivors?”

“Once the nanites finish repairing their injuries, they’ll be fine.” With a sigh, the engineer rose to his feet.

Microscopic robots administered through injection, nanites were capable of healing non-fatal wounds, both internal and external, and curing certain common diseases. Each of Michaud’s androids had been manufactured with nanites in its synthetic bloodstream. However, those that lay strewn across the deck had been damaged beyond even the nanites’ capability to restore.

Michaud sighed and shook his head. “Such a goddamn waste.”

“Better them than us,” a new voice said.

Both men turned as Sergeant Amira Ecklund approached, rounding the pile of bodies without so much as a glance. “Isn’t that the whole point of your androids, to spare human lives?”

Michaud pointed toward the bodies. “And this is how you express your gratitude?”

“They’re machines, Doc.”

“They’re biomechanical, with emphasis on bio! Don’t forget they’re also—”

“Property of the System,” Ecklund said.

Michaud let his arm drop to his side. “Look who’s talking.”

Ecklund opened her mouth to respond when Glazier’s commphone buzzed. Hoping to escape yet another debate between these two, he pulled it from his belt and peered at the screen. “It’s Commander Zamora.” Glazier pressed a button. “Glazier here.”

“Lieutenant, I need you and Ecklund in the main conference room immediately, and bring Dr. Michaud. This concerns him, too.”

***

In the conference room minutes later, Glazier, Ecklund, and Michaud took seats opposite Commander Elyen Zamora. As with most people indigenous to the continent of Lhaneshka, Zamora’s orange eyes were in striking contrast to his dark complexion. Even when seated, the commander cut an imposing figure in both height and physique. He greeted them with a solemn nod, thick hands folded atop the table.

“Lieutenant Glazier, Sergeant Ecklund,” Zamora began. “Congratulations on a flawlessly executed assault today. You managed to eliminate nearly seventy percent of the illegal drug trade in the System, especially yhezerin. Commendations are in order for both of you.”

“Thank you, sir,” Glazier and Ecklund replied in unison.

Zamora shifted his gaze to Michaud. “And you, Doctor. Your androids performed commendably. I think it’s safe to say that today’s expedition provided irrefutable proof of their value to the military. You must be proud.”

Michaud smiled thinly, his eyes downcast. “Yeah, thanks.”

“Commander, I get the feeling we were called here for more than a pat on the back,” Glazier said. “What is this about?”

Zamora shrugged. “It’s the captain’s meeting. He should be along shortly. All I can say is that he did not sound pleased.”

Ecklund frowned. “With our performance?”

She spoke just as the conference room door slid aside. “Not at all, Sergeant.” Captain Veikko Jorgen strode into the room and took a seat at the head of the conference table. Jorgen was a gaunt, middle-aged man with platinum hair trimmed close to his pale scalp. As he sat forward, his wide gray eyes locked onto Glazier in what had become known among the crew as the ‘stare of steel.’

More like ice. If the man’s eyes had ever held any compassion at all, two decades in the System military had robbed him of it. Glazier’s shoulders tensed as the captain began.

“Damn fine job out there, Lieutenant. In fact, I admit to a certain degree of personal gratification in your success.”

It was no secret that Jorgen had lost his daughter to an overdose of yhezerin eight months ago. When manufacture of the drug had been traced back to a laboratory in the Ghanzing Belt, a ring of asteroids orbiting the 11th planet in the Noltaq system, he had volunteered to lead the assault.

“I’ll get right to the point,” the captain continued. “In the fourteen months since we left port, we’ve all watched the political situation back home steadily deteriorate. Since the New Fundamentalists attained increased representation over the past two elections, they’ve exerted more influence over policy than the Progressives.

“Even as we decimated the Ghanzing drug cartel today with the assistance of Doctor Michaud’s androids, the Fundamentalists finally managed to pass their law banning the development of artificial intelligence and biomechanical technologies regardless of their purpose.”

“That’s impossible!” Michaud blurted. “The System can’t just stifle decades of scientific progress because some politicians hold a fairy-tale belief in a non-existent deity.”

“I sympathize, Doctor. I despise the idea of our government turning into a theocracy, but right now, the religious zealots have control.”

“What does this mean for us, Captain?” Zamora asked.

Jorgen looked at Michaud. “It means that Doctor Michaud is hereby ordered to deactivate his androids.”

The engineer stared at him for several seconds, his incredulous expression hardening to anger.

Shit… Glazier tensed. Here it comes.

“You mean kill them,” Michaud seethed. “They don’t have off switches, Captain. They’re not automatons.”

“I was trying to be delicate, Doctor.”

Michaud threw himself back in his seat and stared at the ceiling. “This is not happening.” The room fell silent, all eyes on Michaud. After several seconds, he held up both hands. “OK, wait. Captain, what if you let me have a shuttle? I could take the surviving androids into the Empty Quarter and disappear. No one would ever know.”

An expanse of unclaimed space stretching about 50 light years, the Empty Quarter separated Noltaq from the next populated system controlled by the Zhoreen Alliance. It contained few planets, most of them uninhabitable.

Zamora nodded in support of the idea. “We could turn over the androids from the cargo hold as evidence of their destruction.”

“You of all people should know the penalty of lying to the System, Commander.” Jorgen turned his scowl on Michaud. “Even if I could use your dead androids as a smokescreen, explain how I’m supposed to account for a missing shuttle.”

“Lost in battle.”

“That would require tampering with the ship’s logs. This hole you have me digging would become my grave. I’m sorry, Doctor, but the orders stand.”

Michaud shook his head. “I don’t think you’re sorry at all, Captain. I think you’re pleased. You never wanted my androids aboard your ship in the first place. You were probably hoping the Fundies would push their law through. You’re no better than they are.”

Glazier shot a sidelong glance at Ecklund. Both knew that Jorgen would maintain his composure only for so long. Insubordination, even from a civilian, was not tolerated.

“I’m far from a Fundamentalist, Doctor Michaud, but you’re right. I don’t trust androids. I don’t trust artificial intelligence at all, no matter how much it resembles a human. System High Command ordered me to test your products on this mission and now they’re ordering me to destroy them. I follow my orders. It’s that simple, Doctor.”

“Like Hell it is.” Michaud leapt to his feet. “I’m contacting my company.”

“I’m afraid you’ll find that conversation a bit one-sided. System police have already seized Geary Corporation’s A.I. facilities. Your fearless leader, Doctor Isaac Geary is currently missing, but a warrant has been issued for his arrest. If he refuses to cooperate, he’ll be tried and probably imprisoned, or exiled. I would hate to see the same thing happen to someone as young and promising as yourself, Doctor.”

Michaud leaned over the conference table. “I realize they’re mere chattel to you, Captain, but these androids have become friends to me and many of your crew. I created them. How can you expect me to murder them?”

“I take it that means you refuse to cooperate?”

Michaud’s smoldering gaze met Jorgen’s frigid stare. “There’s obviously nothing I can do to stop you. Their blood is on your hands, Captain. I’ll have no part of this.”

“I see.” Jorgen kept the civilian in his sights as he spoke. “Sergeant Ecklund, please escort Doctor Michaud to his quarters where he is to be confined until we’re planet side. At which point, we’ll turn him over to military police. Let the System deal with him.”

Ecklund rose from her seat and stood beside Michaud. She placed one hand on her firearm and the other on his shoulder.

“This isn’t over, Captain,” he said.

“It is for you, Doctor. Thank you for your service aboard the Kindred.” Jorgen nodded at Ecklund. She turned him toward the door. Michaud shot a final threatening glance at Jorgen before departing.

When they were out of earshot, Zamora looked to Glazier. “How many androids survived the raid, Lieutenant?”

“Seven, sir.”

Jorgen smirked as he looked from Glazier to Zamora. “That’s all? The good doctor made it seem as if there were more.”

The captain and first officer rose from their seats in unison. Glazier’s shoulders tensed as he did the same. Don’t even say it.

Jorgen smiled thinly. “We’ll leave the method of their disposal to your discretion, Lieutenant. Dismissed.”

Dammit! Glazier felt the heat drain from his face. Sir, if I—”

“Is there a problem, Lieutenant? You and Ecklund can handle seven androids, can’t you?”

Glazier clenched his jaw.

“As I understand it, Lieutenant, your tour aboard the Kindred will end in two weeks.”

Glazier held steady against the captain’s threatening scowl. “That’s correct, sir.”

“I’d hate to see such a loyal officer spend the remainder of this expedition in the brig, not to mention leaving the service with a dishonorable discharge for disobeying an order from System High Command. That would forfeit your benefits and make it difficult to find a civilian job. Now do we understand each other, Lieutenant?”

“Yes, sir.” Bastard.

***

The guards assigned to Michaud’s quarters snapped to attention as Glazier approached. Ignoring them, he pressed the button beside the door. A few seconds passed before the door slid aside.

Glazier entered into complete darkness. Across the cabin, a porthole encompassed almost the entire outer bulkhead, permitting a sweeping view of the Ghanzing Belt. Countless multicolored points of light studded even the smallest of the asteroids, marking various settlements and mining operations.

“What do you want?”

Michaud was somewhere to his left.

“I came by to apologize, Ollie.”

Finally, Glazier’s eyes adjusted and found the engineer hunched forward in his chair facing the porthole. He spoke in a strained whisper. “He ordered you to do it. You and Ecklund.”

Glazier lowered his head and sighed. “Yeah.”

“I bet she enjoyed it.”

“Well, I didn’t.”

“I know.” Michaud lowered his head. “I still don’t get what you see in her, but I guess any port in a storm.”

Glazier let the comment go. His relationship with Ecklund was no secret among the lower decks. She was also part of the reason he was leaving the service, although he’d never reveal that to her.

“So how did you do it?” Michaud said. “How did you deactivate them?”

“Does it matter? It was fast and painless, I promise.”

Michaud sighed. “That’s more than I can say for myself right now. Political tides change and my life ends up in the shit can.”

“If it’s any consolation, I convinced Jorgen to dismiss what happened in the conference room. There will be no report of your refusal to cooperate. Once we’re back on Noltaq, you’ll be free to go.”

“Thanks, Cam. At least someone on this ship has a heart.”

“What will you do now?”

“I’ve been pondering that very question for the past few hours. I haven’t entirely decided, but one thing is certain. I’ll never forget what happened here today.”

To be continued in…


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Daniel Patrick Corcoran Explores Distant Planets in the Middle of Eternity

The good news is that our Kickstarter campaign to bring you volume two of our Middle of Eternity anthology series has managed to raise $944! However, we have only 15 days left to raise $1,500 to meet our goal. Otherwise, the project will not be funded at all. If you’re considering whether to back our project, please click here to check out the various donation levels and the rewards we’re offering on Kickstarter.  We deeply appreciate your support!

The next featured author on our menu is Daniel Patrick “Renfield” Corcoran.

Renfield is a familiar face in the BaltiDaniel Patrick Corcoranmore convention scene, most notably having performed with the Usual Suspects and Cheap Treks comedy troupes, as well as sometimes lending his voice to Prometheus Radio Theatre. He has recently turned his energies to the printed page under the pen name Daniel Patrick Corcoran.

I see you’ve suited up for another daring expedition into the Middle of Eternity! This time around, you come equipped with a brilliant story that harkens back to the days of the golden age of science fiction. Please tell us what inspired “The Hard Place”.

When the last Middle of Eternity anthology came out from Firebringer I heard a few people lamenting that among the various supernatural and fantasy stories included, there were very few science fiction stories. I therefore decided that my contribution to this volume would be science fiction, and I wanted to make sure it was as science fiction-y as possible.

So I set it in deep space, on a space station, near an alien planet. Got it. Why are they there? Aliens! Great! Problem? Asteroid! Ethical dilemma. But I didn’t want to tell an entire story about an ethical dilemma. Science fiction twist! Bigger dilemma. Great. There are a lot of different elements in there, because I did keep harkening back to the classic science fiction stories and remembering how much fun they were. I like to think I crafted a story that will keep the reader entertained.

What other writing projects are you working on now and are there any genres outside of SF and horror that you would like to explore as a storyteller?

A local game company recently approached me about writing a backstory and flavor text for a humorous fantasy strategy game they’re producing. It’s still in the early stages, but sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun.

I really enjoy mysteries, and I have been wanting to explore that genre for a while now. I have ideas for a series with a sleuth character I’ve been kicking around, as well as a series of puzzle-solving stories that I’ve been wanting to develop.

Most people know you by one name: Renfield. Of course, we know this to be a main character from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but how precisely did you come about this sobriquet?

Actually, that was just a fan name I picked up shortly after I started attending science fiction conventions regularly. When I first met my wife that was the only name she knew me by, and she told her family she was dating this guy named Renfield and, well, she has a pretty big family. Now I have one side of my family that knows me exclusively as Renfield.

When it came time to print my story in the previous Middle of Eternity volume, I asked my wife what name I should publish it under. She asked, “What’s wrong with Renfield?” I replied, “Honey, it’s a vampire story!”

What does Renfield do when he isn’t writing?

When I’m not herding house rabbits, I’m usually out exploring the food scene of Baltimore.

 

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