Archive for the ‘Steve’s Shorts’ Category

Steve’s shorts: Skeleton Crew…

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

Skeleton Crew

Copyright 2017, Steven M. Moore

Mandy Wang was the first of the six to awake. Others soon followed her from their cryosleep tanks to the shower stalls.

“I feel like shit,” said Guillermo Rivera, the Chilean, sitting on a bench while waiting his turn.

“The shower helps,” said Mandy. “I’ll soon be done.”

When she exited and started toweling off, she smiled at Guillermo. “Don’t get any ideas. We have work to do.”

He shrugged. “In those tanks, it’s like being under anesthesia. You can’t even dream. Cut me some slack.”

Abdul Hakim and Judith Allan looked at each other, smiled, and then laughed. Sam Roberts and Sheila Townsend frowned. The first two waited patiently in their birthday suits. Sam and Sheila had covered themselves with towels.

“Mandy is correct,” said Sheila. “We must follow protocol.”

***

Protocol meant checking all the ark’s systems with the help of the AI, outside and inside the hull of the huge ship. Two readouts that were the most important were the integrity of the huge ten-square-kilometer forward hydrogen scoop and the aft reactors that not only slowly accelerated the ark but provided all the power for life support, even though all flora and fauna except for the six humans was in cold storage, including millions of frozen embryos.

Unless there were problems, that protocol would take six Earth days. After that, the six would rest one day, and then they would return to the tanks for another twenty years.

This was the first wake-period after leaving the solar system. The AI had monitored the events happening on Earth all the time, though. They watched the video records in horror as those events confirmed the necessity for launching the five arks. Most of Earth was now nuclear slag.

“I guess the Christian Union got its wish for Armageddon,” said Abdul. “Crazy bastards. And to think they criticized radical Muslims. Those SOBs now have their Second Coming and reward in Heaven, I guess.”

“It takes two to tango,” said Sheila.

“More than two,” said Mandy. “The tipping point was Christians trying to retake Jerusalem from the Jews and Muslims.”

“We Buddhists,” said Mandy, “aren’t attached to Jerusalem. I never could understand the big deal.  Couldn’t Christians, Jews, and Muslims share the city?”

“Don’t wrap this all up in religion,” said Guillermo. “We all know unscrupulous leaders use religious fervor and hatred and bigotry to further their own fascist agendas. Ever since that crazy U.S. president was elected with that kind of base, we started our descent into the maelstrom.”

“He wasn’t the only one,” said Sheila.

“Earth’s descent into populist tribalism was worldwide,” said Judith. “And those leaders go at least back to the 20th century where millions of my people were sent to Nazi ovens.”

Abdul looked around the group. “Shall I turn the video off? I’ve seen enough of this collective insanity.”

The others nodded.

***

Governments had tried to stop the international group that had financed the arks, but it had many rich financial backers who were more frightened of how worldwide disputes were going every day that passed.  That group had carefully chosen the six to monitor the ship during the wake-periods. Some in the group of financial backers felt that the powerful AI was sufficient and more than six could sleep through the journey and take over when the ship reached its destination, but others, arguing for an insurance policy, had won the argument for the periodic checks on progress.

But no screening was perfect. All the compatibility measures on Earth hadn’t predicted the psychological stress of interstellar space travel and its effects on the six.

(more…)

Steve’s shorts: Prequel to Chaos…

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

[While many of my books lead up to Survivors of the Chaos in the “Chaos Chronicles Trilogy” and are on the same long timeline—in particular, the “Clones and Mutants Series” and the bridge novel, Soldiers of God—I decided that, considering the current political situation in the U.S. right now, a short-story prequel to The Chaos Chronicles Trilogy Collection, just recently released, was in order.  Consider it a funeral dirge for democracy treating how fast my warnings about fascist capitalism are coming true. 1984 missed the point—now it’s the worldwide oligarchy who are the fascists.]

Prequel to Chaos

Copyright 2018, Steven M. Moore

The three hydrogen-powered limos pulled in front of the 202m-tall building on Fifth Avenue between 56th and 57th Streets. First to get out were the security guards who created a perimeter to protect their charge from unwanted New Yorkers like the infirm, hungry, and homeless who filled the streets around the tower.  When that was established, Randall Holmes, chief lawyer for GenCorp, stepped down and followed some of his security personnel into the tower.  There he met Daniel Ito, chief lawyer for GenCorp’s main competitor, WorldNet.

“You do pick unusual places to have a meeting,” said Ito, waving a hand to indicate the ornate lobby now a tarnished derelict compared to its original splendor.  “Is this—?”

“Yes, it is.  It possesses some symbolism I find useful for our meeting.”

Ito nodded.  “Let me guess: A phallic symbol of how we’ve screwed the common man, perhaps?” He smiled, but the smile was cold and forced.

“I have no regrets.  You shouldn’t either.  The masses deserve to be screwed.  They’re all idiots.”

“We all operate with that assumption.  Want to make a coordinated entrance for shock value, or should I go in first because you’re the one who set up the meeting?”

“Don’t be petty.  I need to make a call to our fearless leader, so go on up.” Holmes waited until the elevator doors closed and then made his call using subvocalized commands to the wi-fi device implanted in the right side of his head.  “They sent Ito,” he said.

“I think he’ll go along with the plan,” said the GenCorp CEO. “It’s beneficial to all of us, after all.”

***

When Holmes stepped out of the elevator, he had to smile. The corridor that led to the meeting room was in worse shape than the lobby. The frayed carpets had curious splotches on them.  He couldn’t help imagining squatters defecating on the floor.  There are multiple facets to this symbolism, he thought.

His security detail joined the others already present who barely acknowledged his presence. Ito probably had a better reception because he had already sent his security up.  All VIPs are equal, but some are more equal than others, he thought with a smile. He didn’t really give a damn about Ito or WorldNet.

He entered the room and eyed those who were already seated around the huge table—nine CEOs from multinationals looked his way, some nodding slightly, others showing a more curious expression, and still others, disdain.  He took his chair at the head of the table.  Ito was already sitting at the opposite end.

Representatives of the most powerful multinationals on the planet. Can we ensure our future? More importantly, can I guarantee GenCorp’s?

“No introductions are needed,” he said, “so let’s get down to business. We will have to take matters into our own hands if we’re going to survive.  We’ve caused a lot of this general breakdown in world society we now call the Chaos.  We have to come up with a fix.  Is everyone in agreement?”

There were nods of agreement, but Ito’s was less enthusiastic.

***

“The breakup of countries into feuding but large tribal-like groups is the end game of the tribalism promoted by that crazy U.S. president so many decades ago,” the WorldNet representative said.  “While I might generally agree we have to come up with some kind of solution to guarantee our future, why is it only our responsibility to fix things?”

“That psycho admired the fascist oligarchies of China and Russia,” said Holmes, “but our predecessors supported him so that they could all get rich.  As a consequence, America became a fascist oligarchy too and split into different countries just like everywhere else.  We benefitted from that and still do.  We have continued to do so ever since.  But in this Chaos, our profits might dwindle and anarchy is a distinct possibility. Anyone here want that?”  They all shook their heads in the negative.  They all wanted to preserve their place in the oligarchy, which was now entrenched and worldwide. “Then listen to what I have to propose.  Shall we go to the slides?”

That was really a command for the computer to start projecting slides for a talk Holmes had carefully prepared.

***

“My proposal is simple. We have been content to play in the background as long as governments did what we told them to do. With the breaking up of countries and their economic pacts across the globe, that tactic no longer is feasible.” He gave a subvocal command to the computer.  It changed the slide from the first one titled “What to Do About the Chaos?” to the second with bullets outlining his plan.  “We’ll have to refine this plan, so it’s only a beginning, but I think the main ideas are solid.” He began to cover the bullets.  The AI followed his words, highlighting each one as he came to it.

(more…)

The Dr. Carlos stories…

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

Carlos Obregon, medical officer on the starship Brendan, stars in various short stories of mine. You can find them in the collections Pasodobles in a Quantum Stringscape and Fantastic Encores! Dr. Carlos is Sherlock Holmes at times, while his intern Julie Chen often plays the role of Dr. Watson. But are these short stories mysteries or sci-fi? They’re both, of course, for the most part—always sci-fi, but many also mysteries. This isn’t new in sci-fi. Old master Isaac Asimov created the sci-fi mystery, in particular with The Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun, two novels where Earth cop Elijah Bailey teams up with android Daneel Olivaw. Most sci-fi stories have some mystery elements, of course, but putting a traditional crime story in a futuristic context seems to bring out the best of both genres.

One of the best recent sci-fi mysteries I’ve read is Adam Troy Castro’s Emissaries of the Dead. It combines many conventional sci-fi elements into a crime story—weird ETs, strange settings, and an interstellar conspiracy that broadens the scope of merely solving a murder case. Clarke’s 2001 and 2010 are sci-fi mysteries; so is his Rama series until the Rama engineers are outed. My young adult novel The Secret Lab is also a sci-fi mystery. Readers can probably think of many more examples.

Dr. Carlos is an amateur sleuth, of course, and he also takes care of the medical challenges, his main job. The Brendan is in the Space Exploration Bureau’s fleet; the SEB is an agency of the Interstellar Trade Union of Independent Planets (ITUIP), a federation comprised of many near-Earth planets. The evolution of ITUIP starts in the “Chaos Chronicles Trilogy” (now available as a bundle) and continues with Rogue Planet. Dr. Carlos lives at the end of this timeline, far in the future. My goal is to include Dr. Carlos in a future novel as an homage to Dr. Asimov, but the reader can get to know him in the short stories.

Dr. Carlos is something of a rascal who often creates his own problems. He’s knowledgeable about Human and ET history, not a mean feat when considering the lengthy future history of near-Earth space I’ve imagined. He might also be considered an expert on trivia. He drives the Brendan’s captain crazy sometimes, and doesn’t always follow SEB rules. In the long run, though, he creates order out of chaos in the short stories describing his adventures.

While some short stories merit expansion into a novel (the short story, “Marcello and Me,” found in the Pasodobles collection, will become an example), I probably need a more complex plot if I’m going to do honor to Dr. Asimov. Hopefully that’s not a problem—I have many ideas for crime stories, and giving them a future setting should be possible. So Dr. Carlos will probably get his own novel.

I love this character. In some sense, he’s an alter-ego who can have adventures that I can never hope to have. But maybe that’s a characteristic of all sci-fi writers?

***

Pasodobles in a Quantum Stringscape and Fantastic Encores! have new reviews—see my webpage “Books & Short Stories.” These speculative fiction collections are excellent ways to try out my sci-fi for any reader on your gift list—that might be you? Many hours of varied reading entertainment illustrating my belief that short fiction isn’t dead in the publishing world.

In libris libertas!

Steve’s shorts: Special Cargo…

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

[While tongue-in-cheek, there’s a serious side to this story. See if you can discover my homage to Greeks. Geez, I love that baklava!]

Special Cargo

Copyright 2017, Steven M. Moore

Cal’Len, my XO, bent over and shouted in my ear. The din in the Zanthian bar required this so I could understand him. The crazy band’s music was mostly loud burps and wheezes with lots of percussion and contributions from many types of the Zanthian’s traditional instruments.

I put my Zanthian Bomb down and raised my eyebrows because he had just told me that a Zanthian had offered a huge amount of credits, including bonuses for all my crew, if we could transport a special cargo to the planet Rak. I’d never heard of that planet. Wondered if it was in the ITUIP.

My ship had a standard mercantile shipping license. The International Trade Union of Independent Planets gave those out as long as the shipper went online and filled out an extensive and boringly bureaucratic computer form, attaching copies of ownership for the starship, but they were often more rigorous in enforcing their shipping rules—read: knowing what cargo was going where. If Rak was under quarantine—that could be for a variety of reasons in addition to health ones—we’d have a hard time even getting permission to lift off.

“Can we go there?” I said to Cal’Len in my loudest voice.

He knew all those ITUIP rules of commerce backwards and forwards. Valuable XO, Cal’Len. He often kept me out of serious legal trouble.

“You’re OK from ITUIP’s perspective, although we’ll have to be careful with return cargo. Aristotle doesn’t have much about the planet Rak on file, but we can haul freight there.”

Aristotle was our ship’s AI. “Does it know how to get us there?”

“The Zanthian client has provided the coordinates.”

“OK. Let me finish this drink. I’ll talk to him outside. The noise here is oppressive.”

After achieving the desired effect with the Bomb, I went outside to where Cal’Len waited with the Zanthian. My XO was about a third of a meter taller than me; the Zanthian was twice my size. Cal’Len’s black skin made a nice combo with his golden parrot-like beak and red mop; the Zanthian was cream-colored with large red spots and a flat face with a big nose—a handsome fellow from his people’s perspective. I was a puny and pale Human in comparison, but I was Captain Rick Cortese, owner of the star-freighter Skyrunner—the name was a translation from Cal’Len’s vernacular, the Sartok language. I checked that everyone had their com devices plugged into the side of their heads. Aristotle could easily handle three languages.

***

“I am honored, Captain Cortese,” said the Zanthian, bowing deeply. The bow doubled him down to about my stature. Zanthians are big! He straightened up. “You may call be Ba’ath.”

I looked skyward about two meters. “What’s in your cargo, Citizen Ba’ath?”

“I’m offering you a lot of credits, captain, and part of that payment should buy me some privacy for my shipment.”

“I’m uncomfortable with that. For all I know you have a nuke in there with a timer or FTL trigger.” The former would be old-fashioned; an RF-controlled detonator would be less so. And an FTL trigger goes off when a starship enters the Nexus to accomplish the faster-than-light trick of hopping through metaverses.

“Not likely. I am part of the cargo. I’m paying for passenger space, that is.”

“So what? Maybe you’re suicidal.”

“I could contract with another shipper.”

Yeah, maybe, I thought, but they probably wouldn’t be as desperate as I am. I raised an eyebrow and looked at Cal’Len. My Sartok friend was good at reading Human body language. I still vocalized my question in Standard. “Is this guy for real?” I looked up at Ba’ath again. “You know we have the right to inspect cargo, correct?”

“Clause number 3.108 of the ITUIP shipping regulations clearly states that diplomatic cargo can only be inspected by remote sensors if the diplomat doesn’t want to allow internal inspection of said cargo.”

I winked at Cal’Len. “You two can have a great time en route discussing ITUIP legalities. Are you a diplomat?”

“Yes, I am on a diplomatic mission to Rak representing Zanth.” He handed me his e-creds. I examined them. “Tentatively it’s a go until we can check with the Zanthian State Department. How big is your shipment?”

“It will fit into your number 2 cargo hold.”

“OK. We’ll meet you at the Skyrunner—“ I looked at my watch. “—in about a standard hour. My XO will have checked your creds by then. You’re responsible for surface transportation and any cranes.”

Ba’ath nodded and bowed again.

***

From the bridge monitor, I watched the crane swing the huge shipping crate into the cargo hold. “I have a bad feeling about this, Cal’Len, but the pay is too good to pass up. Wonder if we can bring anything good back from Rak.”

“I’ve made some inquiries. The planet is rich in rare heavy metals. Rak is not far from where those two neutron stars collided. Lots of heavy metals produced in that volume of space.”

“We’re not an ore ship.”

“It might be worth it if they’re rare enough. We can haul them to the nearest ITUIP planet, clean up the holds, and take on more freight.”

What we do to make a few credits. Poor Skyrunner wouldn’t like all the dirt and mess. “What’s the government of Rak like?”

(more…)

Steve’s shorts: The ITUIP Protocol…

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

[Perhaps you’ve read about this in Rogue Planet. This story’s about more than the Protocol, though…]

The ITUIP Protocol

Copyright 2017, Steven M. Moore

“Layers and layers of bureaucracy,” said Lars Beltran, the Human.

“The clan model would be simpler,” said Grabek, the Tali.

“I agree,” said Fisher-of-Rivers, the Ranger.

The AI translated what the latter two said for Beltran almost immediately, its voice murmuring into the com device implanted in the side of his head. Of course, it had also translated what he had said into the Tali’s guttural language and the Rangers’ buzzspeak; they both had similar devices.

“How can we avoid it?” said Beltran.

Fisher-of-Rivers, who was balanced on a stool, waved some tentacles. “Good question. You Humans depend on it so much. You’d think you would have found a solution by now.”

“Social layering is required,” said Grabek. “I envision a loose union. Each planet should determine its own organization within the loose set of rules of a federation. The latter shouldn’t have to preoccupy itself with details of planetary administration.”

“We already have our loose set of rules, guidelines that will be enforced to gain membership and maintain it. There are other things the federation should be in charge of—general defense, space exploration for scientific advance and colonialization, and so forth.”

“The present Space Exploration Bureau works well for the latter,” said Fisher-of-Rivers. “I’m not sure about mutual defense. Will the federation get in a bind when one planet feuds with another?”

“Not if the feuding is handled within a multi-tiered judicial system,” said Grabek. “Let’s again discuss the rules for admission. There are a lot of crazy planets in near-Earth space, as you Humans call it. We trade with a lot of them now. I see the federation as more of an economic union, but we need to somehow shield the federation from craziness.”

“Do you mean craziness like the old Tali empire trying to exterminate all intelligent lifeforms other than the Tali?” said the Ranger.

Grabek bristled, but it didn’t show in his orange fur. His anger was signaled by the twitching, independent motion of his ears. His black, leathery face was always inscrutable, and his fur was always carefully preened.

(more…)

Steve’s shorts: A Helluva Fix…

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

A Helluva Fix

Copyright 2017, Steven M. Moore

[This tale was inspired by two books I’m currently reading—The Stolen Child by Lisa Care and Court of Twilight by Mareth Griffith—but I’ve long held that it’s unfair that leprechauns can’t be female. Actually I finished the second one–my review can be found on Bookpleasures.]

Casper Pepperell decided to turn off the AC because he was afraid his old car would overheat in the traffic jam on the 405. He lowered the windows to keep from baking, but he kept on singing Diamond’s “Beautiful Noise” right along with the old singer. Even the traffic chopper flying overhead couldn’t drown out the song.

He heard another voice join in. He glanced at the huge pickup on the driver’s side. Its giant driver was a bald guy with an upper arm as big as Casper’s thigh; an angry red swastika was tattooed on his shoulder. He gave Casper the finger and scowled.

Casper glanced the other way. Something lime-green was at the wheel of a red Lexus sedan. The something had a strong, gravelly contralto voice; “she” smiled and then winked at him.

He blinked. The something morphed into a hot redhead. Maybe the heat, he thought.

The song finished. The woman held up a piece of cardboard. “Call me!” and a telephone number was written on it. What the hell? He wrote the number in the thick layer of dust on his dash.

He soon lost track of the red Lexus and its enchanting driver. A tough commuting hour later, he pulled into the carport corresponding to his small apartment, walked the short distance to his front door with a wave at his retired neighbors who looked like cooked lobsters in their pool chairs, and used his two keys, one for each deadbolt, and punched the code into the keypad (he was on the ground floor).

(more…)

Steve’s shorts: Intern…

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Intern

Copyright 2017, Steven M. Moore

[Some readers of this blog are probably familiar with my Dr. Carlos stories. Carlos Obregon is chief medical officer aboard the starship Brendan, part of the Interstellar Trade Union of Independent Planets’ (ITUIP’s) Space Exploration Bureau’s (SEB’s) fleet. His intern Dr. Julie Chen (not a future relation to my detective Dao-Ming Chen, as far as I know) plays an important role in some stories. The following story is about their first meeting.]

“Lester, I don’t need an intern.” Carlos Obregon crossed his arms and tried to look stubborn.

The captain of the starship Brendan knew that his First Medical Officer had a point. He waved off his objection, though.

“SEB says you do, and I agree with them that we need to train new medical officers all the time. They pair interns with experienced officers all the time. Weren’t you an intern once?”

“I did my internship in a New Haven hospital. I once made the mistake of diagnosing an SEB VIP’s ailment who then showed his gratitude by convincing me to sign on. In those days, fleet medical officers were stolen from the civilian population.”

“OK, let me put it another way: Don’t you think you have some obligation to train young people?”

Obregon indicated the young woman’s hologram appearing between them. “This intern already has experience. She could be a medical officer on a smaller ship right now and probably do a good job.”

The captain nodded. “I agree. She seems a bit over-qualified. It’s out of my hands, though. I can do nothing about it. Neither can you.”

Obregon thought a moment. “There are times when I could use some help, but those are probably times when an intern would just get in my way.”

The captain shrugged. “She’ll be boarding sometime this afternoon. You’ll have to talk to her. The faster you get her up to speed, the faster you’ll be rid of her.”

“Not until we have planetary leave again. That could take forever.”

“Or it could be in three standard months if we have a particularly stressing mission. And remember, you’ll be signing off on her being qualified for a regular post. That’s a major responsibility.”

“Can I wash her out if she’s not qualified?”

The captain frowned. “Don’t look for trouble, Carlos. Not being able to train a qualified intern won’t look good on your own record.”

“And here I mistakenly thought that the candidate’s performance would determine their future postings.”

***

“I’ve chosen a few classic texts for you to peruse,” said Obregon.

Julie Chen floated in a lotus position before his desk. Showoff, he thought. I could do that too, but I have a bit more decorum in zero-g. Brendan wouldn’t spin up the artificial gravity until just before going FTL.

They were already in the far reaches of the solar system where crewmembers had enjoyed a short leave on the fifth planet. The captain had ordered an FTL drive inspection that required the zero-g environment.

“I’m starting you with Wave Searcher’s Physiology of Known ET Genotypes and Blamak’s Sentient Lifeforms and their Circulatory Systems.

“I’ve already studied those texts. I remember you wrote a chapter in Wave Searcher’s book.”

“Fine. Look at the other texts then. Things are pretty quiet on the way out. The going gets rough when we have to explore an unknown planet and decide if it’s OK for colonization.”

(more…)

Steve’s shorts: Lifeboat…

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

Lifeboat

Copyright 2017, Steven M. Moore

“Can we keep it?”

Jerry looked at the creature in his daughter’s hand. He had stopped sprinkling the new grass seed and considered her question. He held out his free hand, still gloved from raking the soil.

“Give it to me and let me rinse your hand off!” The creature looked like fancy lime Jello from a mold, except it wasn’t completely transparent. “Where did you get this?”

Susie pointed under the hedge. He saw something the size of a small, shiny, stainless steel garbage can. The rounded end was blackened as if it had gone through a fire. The flat end was emitting white smoke. There were strange characters on the side that looked a bit like Chinese writing. A bio attack launched from China?

(more…)

Steve’s shorts: Marci…

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

Marci

Copyright 2017, Steven M. Moore

Anjum opened the invitation, read it, and then tore it up. No way am I going to send my daughter to a party to be bullied by those brats!

She smiled as her daughter started to play another piece. Her birth-mother had rejected her; Anjum and her husband had adopted her. I think that’s a Debussy étude.

She’d always wanted to give Hakeem a son or daughter, but she couldn’t. Now all their parental love was for their adopted daughter, who came with the name Marcia, but they called her Marci. It was the only name the child recognized.

Perhaps the parents inviting her child meant well. Perhaps they didn’t understand that Marci’s differences with other children were a blessing. Perhaps they didn’t know that so-called “normal children” picked on her.

Anjum and Hakeem knew their child had special talents. She had started to play the piano at three and they found her drawing complicated geometrical shapes and constructing elaborate sequences of numbers when she was four. Hakeem showed some of the latter to a mathematician where they both worked. The mathematician told Hakeem that one sequence was a list containing natural numbers with more and more crossed out revealing the prime numbers. “She’s mentally applying Eratosthenes’s sieve,” the mathematician had said.

What will my daughter’s future be like?

***

Marci took out her tablet and typed, “Are you nervous?”

Her husband looked at his iPhone and shook his head. “I’m just reading your speech, hon,” he texted back to her.

When the time came, they went on stage together. He gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek and began reading her speech to the audience.

“Mathematics and music were my faithful friends. I love them almost as much as I love my husband.” He paused and winked at her. “I am humbled that you have decided to award me the Fields Medal, often considered to be the Nobel Prize of mathematics. As Newton said, though, I was fortunate to be able to stand on the shoulders of giants, in particular Ramanujan. My work only continued the work of many mathematicians, so this award is also their award. Thank you.”

The applause was so deafening that she wanted to cover her ears. But she only smiled at Anjum and Hakeem in the front row. The “thank you” was mostly for them. Her old mother and father smiled back.

***

Rembrandt’s Angel (a mystery/thriller from Penmore Press). To what lengths would you go to recover a stolen masterpiece? Scotland Yard’s Art and Antiques Inspector Esther Brookstone goes the extra mile. She and paramour/sidekick Bastiann van Coevorden, an Interpol agent, set out to outwit the dealers of stolen art and recover “An Angel with Titus’ Features,” a Rembrandt painting stolen by the Nazis in the Second World War. Their efforts lead to much more, as they uncover an international conspiracy that threatens Europe. During their dangerous adventures, their relationship solidifies and becomes a full-blown romance. This book is available in ebook format at Amazon and at Smashwords and its affiliate retailers. It’s also available as a print version at Amazon, B&N, or your favorite bookstore (if not there, ask for it). See the review and interview at Feathered Quill.

In libris libertas…

 

Steve’s shorts: Siege…

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

Siege

Copyright 2017, Steven M. Moore

“Have you heard, Josefina?”

The woman put the paper plates in front of her small children. She watched them begin to devour the PB&J sandwiches.

“Heard what, Father Sullivan?”

“The police have said they’re outnumbered. They’re letting the mad dogs take over the city.”

Josefina paled, caught her breath, and sat down on the fourth chair at the little table.

“Will we still be safe here?”

The young priest shook his head. “Your case has been in the local news. They know you’re here. I don’t know if any of us are safe. Mob rule isn’t pretty. They are thugs and killers.”

“Where else could we go?”

“Everywhere will be dangerous. Our only hope is that they respect the church as sanctuary. I suspect we might have other guests, refugees from the terror.”

Josefina wrung her hands, looking from angelic face to angelic face. The violence in her home country had been followed by years of peace in her new one. All her children were born in the U.S., but she was still an illegal. If they had just offered her some route to a green card and then citizenship.

When ICE started tearing apart the immigrant families, she had to leave her good-paying job and seek refuge in her church. Her children, ages three, five, and eight, were too young to leave on the outside even though they weren’t in danger.

Now they were all in danger, including the priests, nuns, and deacons who had given them shelter. The neo-Nazis now in control of the city would run amok.

“You should all join us here in the basement,” she said. “We’ll barricade the doors.”

Father Sullivan nodded. “That’s a good idea if it works. I’ll tell the others. We need to bring all our food supplies down here.”

She glanced around the huge basement used in better times for church social functions and overflow from the holiday masses. The large TV was connected to cable as well as a feed from the old cathedral above them.

“They might burn it all down,” she said. “We’d all be trapped.”

“Not if our barricade is strong enough and the ceiling holds.” He paused at the stairs. “It’s possible that the police will come to their senses and hold them off until the National Guard can be deployed to stop them, but we need to be prepared. Can Antonio take care of the other two if you help us?”

Josefina looked at her oldest child. With wide eyes, he nodded.

“Tranquilla, mamacita, los cuideré.”

It took them half a day to prepare. When the barricades went up blocking the entrances into the basement, Juanita’s family had been joined by the four priests, nearly a dozen nuns, and more than the Hispanic families, all citizens or green-card holders. They had come to seek refuge because no one needed to tell them what the skinheads would do to them if they were caught.

“The governor is calling in the National Guard,” said Father Sullivan.

“Too little, too late,” said a nun. “This is our Kristallnacht.”

They sat around holding hands and awaiting their fate.

***

Rembrandt’s Angel (a mystery/thriller from Penmore Press). To what lengths would you go to recover a stolen masterpiece? Scotland Yard’s Arts and Antiques Inspector Esther Brookstone goes the extra mile. She and paramour/sidekick Bastiann van Coevorden, an Interpol agent, set out to outwit the dealers of stolen art and recover “An Angel with Titus’ Features,” a Rembrandt painting stolen by the Nazis in World War Two. Their efforts lead to much more, as they uncover an international conspiracy that threatens Europe. During their dangerous adventures, their relationship solidifies and becomes a full-blown romance. See the review and interview at Feathered Quill. This book is available in ebook format at Amazon and at Smashwords and its affiliate retailers. It’s available as a print version at Amazon, B&N, or your favorite bookstore (if not there, ask for it).

In libris libertas….