Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Eric L. Heard for sharing an excerpt from his latest release Reflections of an Anxious African American Dad.
About the Book
Reflections of an Anxious African American Dad
The purpose of this book is an awkward discussion of Eric Heard’s life to his son. He talks about his life in a candid way that tries to explain his anxiety as an African American dad. It is an open and honest account of his life through the life of a child that has been through a lot in his life. It is a reflection on his life that has been shaped by his childhood experiences.
This episode jolted me into making another connection between my childhood and how I was acting as a parent with my son. I would take actions to ensure that what had haunted our family tree for generations would not happen to him. I knew it would require some radical steps. One of those actions was writing a book that he can share with his family after I leave this earth. When he thinks about the times I would not go with him to the baseball game or to his school assembly, this book will provide the answers when he reads between the lines.
I hope this book will help others who don’t have their stories told anywhere in media. There are other African American men dealing with their childhood experiences and wanting to insulate their sons and daughters from the echoes and continued grasp of systematic racism. I grew up during an era of seismic changes that saw whole communities decimated. The mental anguish quietly pushed African American dads to find a way to deal with an unforgiving world. These dads are looking to raise kids while at the same time reconciling crushing pain. I would like this book to be an acknowledgment of that pain and let them know they are not alone.
About The Author
About Eric L. Heard
Eric L. Heard currently lives in Bowling Green, Kentucky with his wife, Sonya, of 17 years and his son, McKinley. Eric is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS in Engineering. He also has a Master’s Business Administration from Indiana University and Master’s of Manufacturing Operations from Kettering University. He is an Army Brat who has lived in the Southeast United States, Germany, and Japan. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have any questions or need to contact m
Welcome to TRB-Lounge, the section of TRB dedicated to book promotions. Today, I’d like to welcome author E.T. Gunnarsson, for sharing an excerpt from their latest release Forgive Us.
Read on to get a sneak-peek into this amazing new read!
About The Book
Three timelines. One dark future…
A new form of energy has poisoned the earth, leaving civilization in ruins. As decades go by, the inheritors of this devastation struggle to survive and reconquer a broken planet…
In 2099: Mankind emerges from the darkness. A lone rider named Oliver journeys east, seeking civilization beyond the Rocky Mountains. Braving the toxic earth and poison air, Oliver must battle a horde of deadly mutants as he unites a band of refugees into the first nation of this new world…
In 2153: Fledging nations clash over land and resources. London, a veteran of the wasteland, struggles to protect his adopted daughter Rose as the world decays around them. But little does he know, both he and his adopted daughter will soon find themselves drawn into a coming war…
In 2184: Simon, a descendent of those who fled the earth, lives on the great Arcadis Station. A gifted technician, he works vigilantly against those who rule his society with an iron fist. In the shadows, he will be the difference between enslavement or liberty…
Fans of The Gunslinger and The Stand will love Forgive Us. This epic novel takes readers on a post-apocalyptic thrill ride, spanning three generations of a ravaged earth…
Silent, empty, and cruel. This was the nature of the wasteland.
The wasteland was a vast expanse of ruins, sand, and dying life beneath a polluted sky. This was the new world. It was created by humanity in 2079, and it was the world that they now had to brave to survive.
The downfall of the old world happened slowly. Humanity did not know it, but their cunning and technology became their undoing. In the great battle between Mother Nature and humanity’s dominion, there was no winner.
The sound of a thunderous engine erupted throughout the eerie wasteland as a motorcycle sped along the ancient roads. Upon it was a survivor, alone and braving all odds. His name was Oliver, a thirty-six-year-old man who had grown up in the old world.
Oliver was a refugee from the wild and untamed lands near the Rocky Mountains. He fled East, guided by the hope that the East would be better, though he could feel in his gut that it wouldn’t be. The only solace he had were stories from traveling caravans and survivors who spoke of growing settlements in the East.
Oliver was pursued. Not by man, not by beast, but by time. Starvation, dehydration, exposure, all of these were barely kept at bay by luck and experience. His current and most dangerous pursuer was the weather.
The pollution haze above blocked out the sun. As night approached, the world slowly became pitch black and freezing cold. The darkness parted before the headlights of his motorcycle, yet Oliver felt vulnerable.
Parallel to the road were telephone poles, some of which had tilted or completely fallen to the ground. The surrounding wasteland was desolate and empty, occupied by rocks and sand dunes.
Oliver wore an old-world smart suit that was on its warmest setting. He also wore a coat made out of animal hide over his smart suit. He had traded for it a while ago, and it had saved him from freezing to death many times already. Still, he shivered.
A gas mask covered his face. It was vital for survival in the wasteland; without it, the toxic air would corrode Oliver’s lungs. It was old and worn, created in a factory in the old world. Still, it worked much better than the makeshift masks that most people wore. Finding filters for the gas mask was easy; they were everywhere.
There was a grim face beneath the intimidating gas mask. Oliver’s brown eyes reflected a man whose past was full of pain and hardship. Through the visor, they seemed tired. The light that most people have in their eyes was dim in Oliver’s. He also had deep curves between his brows and fatigued laugh lines. His skin was dark and covered in colored blotches, irritated and damaged from the wasteland air.
Oliver focused on his current task: finding shelter for the night. Such searches were often painful since he had to be picky about the buildings he used. Some were too unstable to hold up against the wasteland’s extreme weather; some were too hard to get into, others occupied.
He paused at a fork in the road, gazing down each path. After a few seconds, Oliver turned the motorcycle right and sped off. The sand-covered asphalt in front of him rose into a hill. Oliver followed the road and arrived at a parking lot. In front of him was an old, wooden church that was leaning to one side. A few cars sat parked in the parking lot, their paint stripped by sandy winds and their frames rusted out by time. The church itself had shattered windows and holes in every wall. Oliver had to make do. It was too dangerous to search for better shelter with night fast approaching.
The thunderous engine cut out as Oliver parked and turned off his motorcycle. The world became silent again. Only faint wind could be heard in the absence of the engine’s power. Oliver turned on a flashlight that was attached to the side of the gas mask. Next, he grabbed his gun off the back of his motorcycle. Holding it with two hands, he turned toward the church. Oliver’s boots met the ground with quiet clicks. These were combat boots, tough and made for smashing jaws.
He swallowed nervously. Though anxious, Oliver felt safe with his Railshot Rifle in hand. It was beautiful, a flawless combination of a railgun and a shotgun. He checked the top port of the gun before entering the church. The gun had plenty of scrap metal in it, ready to shred flesh and bone instantly. Next, he checked the round blue energy meter above the trigger. Oliver felt sure there was enough charge to keep him safe.
He moved toward the entrance. The flashlight pierced the darkness, allowing him to see the gnarled and twisted vines covering the church. They looked so dry that it seemed like they would crumble to dust if Oliver touched them. The twin doors that blocked off the entrance to the building posed no challenge. One was hanging weakly from its hinges, while the other had broken off and now laid on the floor.
Step by step, he entered the church, walking over a fallen door and looking up into the steeple. The lonely church bell still hung far up there. It was rusty, kept in place by a few frayed ropes, gently moving back and forth. Each time the wind gently moved it, Oliver heard a distant “ding” from the steeple.
The bell seemed so lonely. It was a reminder that this place was once the center of a community. Where were they? He assumed that they were all long gone, lost to the last twenty years.
The interior of the church was desolate and destroyed. The hard, wooden floor inside had a layer of sand and pebbles. Each time Oliver took a step, a quiet crunch followed.
There were broken benches and piles of rubble everywhere. Oliver wondered if any ghosts still sat on those benches. Were they at peace, or were they suffering? Many parts of the walls and roof had collapsed upon the altar and benches lining the church. Oliver looked around cautiously, taking in the looming structure.
Here was once a holy site that held peace, now defiled by the wasteland. To Oliver, all of it was just firewood.
The place was empty of any living presence. The only recent trace of human activity was a single piece of graffiti over the altar. Oliver examined the graffiti, stepping upon the altar to wipe some dust off of it.
“GOD HAS ABANDONED US!”
Oliver frowned and stepped down from the altar, turned around, and started to gather pieces of wood. The graffiti was unsettling. Oliver breathed uneasily as he moved around. Once he grabbed enough pieces, he formed them into a campfire at the center of the building. Oliver took off his backpack and laid it beside him. It was an old, rugged backpack that held most of his belongings. There were some holes in it, and its fabric was so worn down that the once blue-ish fibers were black and dirty. The backpack held a bedroll, food, gas mask filters, incredibly precious bottles of water, and bags of scrap metal.
He dug inside the backpack and pulled out a tesla lighter. It was old, given to him when he was younger. On one side was a company logo that was almost invisible from wear. He flipped the cap open and turned it on. Arcs of energy formed between two metal rods, the arcs humming and dancing.
Oliver lowered the lighter down to the campfire. First, there was smoke, then after a few moments, a small flame appeared. Oliver nurtured the flame until it engulfed the small campfire. Once it was going, he unstrapped the bedroll from the backpack and laid it out beneath a bench near the fire. Oliver felt happy as he basked in the warmth of the fire; his shivering slowly stopped as he turned off his flashlight and sat down.
The church creaked and moaned from the rough winds outside. The sounds made Oliver uneasy. He stared at the fire, his face wrinkling in thought as he contemplated the church. People still clung to Christianity in the new world, though their beliefs had changed over the past two decades.
Many were afraid of old churches. Some said that God had punished humanity for their sins. Sin was thought to be the reason why the world was like this now. Many believed that the Devil lived in old holy places like this church. Oliver didn’t believe in all those stories, but the idea still creeped him out. He imagined the evil, horned demon dancing in the shadows with the flickering flame, laughing at his ignorance and plotting to steal his soul.
While warming up from the heat of the campfire, Oliver gazed at the device on his forearm. It was a Smartwrist, similar to a smartwatch from the early 21st century. He turned it on and checked the time. It was nine o’clock, three hours until midnight. New year, new century, same problems. People used to celebrate the new year, drink, and make merry. Not anymore.
With nothing else to do, Oliver decided to eat dinner. He grabbed the backpack and dug through it, procuring a vial with a full meal inside of it. Processed cubes of synthesized meat and vegetables composed the meal, food from the old world. He frowned bitterly under his mask as he looked at the vial. Oliver unscrewed the lid, quickly lifted his gas mask, emptied the vial, and put his mask back on in one swift movement. Instead of throwing away the vial, he put it back in his backpack for later use.
Oliver looked like a chipmunk with so much food in his mouth. Stuffing too much food into his mouth was a bad habit Oliver had; as a matter of fact, he used to be called “Chipmunk” by his family. The artificial food tasted like stale popcorn. Oliver’s metal teeth chewed through the stuff easily. While he was eating, Oliver thought about his last visit to a dentist in the old world.
He remembered having his teeth pulled out to be replaced by 3D printed metal teeth that wouldn’t break or decay. The pain from the procedure was brutal and lasted a few days after the surgery. For many, it was once a rite of passage, marking the transition from teenager to adulthood. Everyone went through it, and, in Oliver’s opinion, he was happy to have metal teeth. Suffering tooth decay from the inability to deal with his hygiene was the last thing Oliver wanted. They looked like real teeth anyway and didn’t turn yellow.
Oliver’s gaze shifted to the doorway of the church. Outside, there was the darkness of a polluted world. There was no grass, but there was still some life, mostly brown, dry, and barely alive. The winds were blowing fiercely as always. A blackish color tainted the air, and waves of dust sailed over the ground with the tremendous force of the wind.
A discontented exhale left his lips as he closed his eyes. Oliver tried to remember a time when the sky didn’t constantly have a dark haze over it. Growing up in a cramped apartment, Oliver heard stories of when there were still green fields and blue skies. He believed the stories only because he had seen pictures that captured those forgotten times, though some doubts lingered in his mind. No matter how hard he tried, he could never recall a bright, sunny day. All that came to mind was the sky darkening as time passed.
He struggled to remember a day when he didn’t have to wear a gas mask to go outside. Oliver recalled that every indoor space had a sort of airlock before anyone could enter. He would walk in, have doors closed behind him, then have the room completely emptied of air and refilled with filtered, clean oxygen in a few seconds.
Oliver checked the time again. Two hours until the new year. He put more wood on the fire to push the biting cold away.
A pained moaning interrupted the peace as the sparks and flames engulfed the new fuel. Oliver let out a startled gasp, holding his breath and looking toward the sound. Far away outside the church, Oliver could hear footsteps approaching. Oliver barely made out the shapes of figures in the darkness outside, human shapes with extra arms, faces, and body parts fused into them. They were human mutants, the fiendish nightmares of the wasteland.
Oliver hastily stood up and snuffed out the fire in front of him with a boot before laying down flat. He reached out for his weapon and held it, his heart throbbing with dread. The noise and the moans were the worst part. The faint silhouette of their horrid, mutant forms was all Oliver could see in the darkness as memories of being chased, attacked, and more slowly crawled back and made his skin feel cold. They came close to the church, horribly close. Their footsteps and hoarse breathing filled the air.
Oliver heard bodies brush against the sides of the church as they walked past, their footsteps passing slowly and beginning to fade. Oliver carefully stood, proceeding to investigate the church. Had he been seen? Did they know he was here? Nothing. Nothing seemed to be hiding among the ruins, and he heard no more sounds outside. A relieved exhale left his lips as he returned to the fire and knelt beside it, trying to start it again.
Abruptly, footsteps quickly approached from behind. Oliver swung around with his gun ready as he heard them. At the same time, something his size crashed into him, causing him to see stars.
It knocked the gun out of his hands and sent Oliver to the ground. He landed with a pained grunt. In an instant, his knife was in his hands. Despite his surprise, Oliver immediately retaliated against the figure he could barely make out.
The beast shrieked as he plunged the blade blindly into its body. Its arms thrashed, mouth gnashing at Oliver. He stabbed again, then again, the thing falling on top of him. Its shrieking grew higher in pitch, a rough hand striking Oliver in the head. The strike made him blink, stunning him but not stopping him from stabbing.
With a tremendous kick, Oliver threw the creature off and began stomping the monster into the floor. Every smack made it squirm less, its whole body growing still after a while. As he stopped, Oliver heard a rasping breath from it. He stomped again out of spite. Oliver wasn’t going to give it mercy. He lifted his mask and spat on the dying creature. As he did, he caught a whiff of its rancid, sweaty smell.
Oliver listened to the creature as it occasionally let out pained squeals. He started the campfire again, the flame slowly growing from the church’s dried, ancient planks. In the light, Oliver could make out the creature dying before him. It was a mutant, shaped like a human with a face fused partly into its shoulder. A useless limb extended from its belly, while a stunted leg dangled from the calf of its right leg. Stab wounds covered its body, blood seeping from each.
Oliver relished its suffering. He watched it trying to fight again, weakly twisting and squirming. It growled and gurgled, painfully bleeding out. After five minutes, it gave in and collapsed completely. Once the mutant was dead, Oliver remained wary of any more creatures. Fortunately, none came to avenge the mutant that he had just killed.
Oliver felt a stinging sensation on the side of the head where the mutant hit him. He rubbed it, causing his face to scrunch as he winced. It must’ve been another mark.
“That’s going to bruise,” he whispered to himself.
His skin was rough and covered in scars, damaged from the toxic air and the violent wasteland. Even if it did bruise, it wouldn’t stand out.
He checked the time again — only forty minutes to midnight. The wind outside began to batter the creaking church. The structure’s stability was questionable, but there was no option to find shelter in another building. Oliver moved his bedroll under a bench and got inside of it, keeping his gun close at hand.
He played games on his Smartwrist to pass the time. Oliver felt a sinking sensation of emptiness when his thoughts dwelled on these games. In his youth, games and social media were a major part of his life. Oliver had followers, friends, people that he still kept in touch with years after losing face-to-face communication. Sometimes, Oliver had met his old friends in virtual worlds. The thought caused his fingers to meet the port where the VR chip went, the object that connected the Smartwrist to the VR equipment he once had.
The world felt more desolate than it already was when these thoughts of loneliness came to him. He remembered virtual games too and how many hours of his life he lost to them. Gaming was a happy memory that made him smile when thinking about all the friends he had made, especially those from strange places. Now, survival was lonely and harsh. Whenever humans met one another, it was either shoot or run.
The last thirty-five minutes passed in the blink of an eye, and before Oliver knew it, the last minute before New Years arrived.
As the last minute dwindled, Oliver released a relaxed, drawn-out exhale. He counted it in his head, one Mississippi, two Mississippi. Oliver mumbled it under his breath until the last ten seconds. He turned off the Smartwrist and lifted both arms in the air with spread fingers.
“Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one… HAPPY NEW YEAR!” he whispered as loudly as he dared.
The year was 2100, and Oliver was still alive.
About The Author
Mr. Gunnarsson grew up on a horse-rescue ranch in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado. He now resides in Georgetown, TX.
Once in Texas, he wrote his first post-apocalyptic book, “Forgive Us” while attending high school. Outside of writing, Mr. Gunnarsson is a purple belt in BJJ and a brown belt in Judo.
Welcome to TRB-Lounge, the section of TRB dedicated to book promotions. Today, I’d like to welcome author R.J. Parker, for sharing an excerpt from his latest release Requiem, Changing Times.
Read on to get a sneak-peek into this amazing new read!
About The Book
Clint and Corbin are having a weird day. Best friends for life, things are getting a little strange around their town, and at school. When they’re followed by a strange man looking for Clint and later attacked by an imp, it makes sense to retreat to the safety of home. But when strangers from another world, Banks and O’Neil, arrive with their medley of allies, things get even weirder. Why are they here? What do they want? And what is The Requiem that everyone keeps talking about? As Clint and his friends and family are drawn deeper into a thrilling adventure, only one thing is for sure. They may not be getting out alive. And class with Mrs Christenson will seem like a walk in the park after this.
Clint looked through his venetian blind at Tamara’s door move as if something was leaning on it from the outside. The only source of light was from Tamara’s window that shown brighter than his from the street lap outside. Also, a single nightlight that was by her bed shimmered, reflecting on the rest of her room which was black down to the carpet.
Clint was looking for anything that he could use for a weapon that was around the room, like one of the lamps by Tamara’s bed, or one of her gothic figurines, when the doorknob shook then started to turn.
With a slight moan the door opened revealing a dark hallway beyond. It was like the storm had cut all power and most of the light through the house as the shadow of a tall image stood in her doorway. Whatever it was Clint couldn’t even see its entire head as it was taller than the door frame at least to the ceiling. There was a flash of lightning again from outside, illuminating it for in instant. Clint saw a large green hand damp from the rain that looked big enough to grip around a basketball and crush it easily. In its other hand it gripped what looked like a giant, crude wooden club, balancing it on one shoulder.
It waited in the hallway, facing the door frame. Clint heard it sniffing the air and the drops of water falling from it hitting the floor. As it stood in the dark hallway Tamara and Clint didn’t move, they didn’t even breathe. Whatever it was in the hallway took one gigantic step inside Tamara’s room, ducking down to bring its head in. Tamara started to take sharper, panicked breaths. She pulled a sleeve of a shirt that was hanging up and bit it, holding it in her mouth to muffle her sound. As it moved deeper into the room Clint watched in awe in the dim light penetrating through the stormy window. Clint saw one of its wet feet was bare and must have been at least a meter long, dark hair covering its skin in small patches on top of the foot. It took another step as it reared its large head searching around for them, still sniffing.
Its muscular frame moved slowly in with its huge club raised, scratching the ceiling. It quickly checked the other side of Tamara’s bed ready to strike if something was there. It had almost no coverings over its skin, just some odd bits of cloth around its waist. It had what looked like tattoos on its arms, chest and back. It also had a thick neck that it stretched to see around the bed and then around Tamara’s chairs, chest of drawers, and other furniture, taking an occasional sniff in the air.
Clint finally saw its face as it turned toward the closet when a lightning bolt struck, illuminating the room. It was sniffing faster now, moving excitedly towards them. Its face was also green with two large teeth growing out of its bottom jaw, it had an upturned nose and prominent overlapping bottom jaw like a barracuda. Its eyes were small and deep set with large bushy eyebrows. Thick black hair was pulled back in dreadlocks. It came closer and closer to them with each heavy step making things in the room shake. It reached out with its club-free hand and touched the far-left closet door.
Tamara and Clint moved as far down as they could to the other side of the closet without making any noise. Clint felt the fear and amazement coursing through him. Tamara started shaking as her breath became unsteady and separated as a large green hand hit the door again. This time the closet door on her end sprang open slightly. Past all the clothes that Clint had pulled on top of himself he could see its fingers open the door the rest of the way. It sniffed some more and reached in toward them. It stopped just short of Clint’s arm and grabbed one of Tamara’s undershirts. It pulled on it, breaking the hanger it was on with remarkable ease and brought it up to its nose, taking one long sniff. It opened its large mouth and laughed softly, threw the undershirt over its club-free shoulder and started to turn to the door where it had come in the room.
Clint moved just his head to keep the intruder visible through his small window space past the clothes and spy the opening in the closet door. The thing moved heavily but gingerly toward the door and when it was out it checked both ways down the hall and stepped out into the hallway.
Suddenly a song cracked through the air from somewhere in the room. It was from Tamara’s cell phone. Tamara shot bolt upright in panic to see her phone on her bed ringing.
“It’s Bill!” she whimpered in terror so low that Clint could barely hear her.
Wham! The intruder had leapt from the doorway across the room and slammed his club over Tamara’s bed, shattering it into pieces. Tamara screamed as the creature lifted its heavy club and turned those small eyes toward the closet. It let out a war cry that sounded like a lion charging to kill. It shifted its weight onto its back foot and started to charge right at the closet door, club held high once more, mouth open yelling, coming right at Clint and Tamara.
Slam! Banks shot from the open door, connecting with the creature that was only a foot away from breaking through the closet door. Banks bared his shoulder into the massive green intruder and with legs pumping drove him to the far side of the room. With both of their strength moving them they were out of control as they whirled toward the window.
With an almighty cry from both of them they shattered the window and plummeted down one story as they clung to one other fighting and punching, until they hit the moist earth with a squelching noise like a plunger in a plugged drain. Their cries of war stopped as Banks hit the ground first, the green man landing right next to him. Clint flung the closet door open and hurried to the broken window, looking down as the rain water poured off the roof on top of his head and down to Banks and the intruder who were sprawled on his front lawn.
Clint watched as Banks rolled over on his back, unsheathing a long sword and holding it up in a defensive stance, while the intruder adjusted his grip on the club to hold it on the very end and swung it along the ground while not getting to its feet. The blow hit Banks’s feet causing him to fall sideways back onto the ground, splashing mud and water everywhere as he moaned in pain. The green intruder swung the club high in the air as it got to its knees and, like a hammer meant to drive a man into the ground it came down right at Banks’ head. Banks pushed with his legs sliding down the sloping hill of their front yard, causing the club to miss him by inches and the force of the blow driving the weapon down into the grass.
O’Neil was suddenly by Clint’s side watching Banks and the intruder both get to their feet and face one another.
“Orc!” O’Neil shouted as he pulled out a short metal handle, and as he brought it to the ready a blue axe blade composed of flames erupted from it. The Orc howled again, giving Banks a taunting swing with the club and held its arms wide showing its bare chest. Banks stood firm and for some reason held out a hand as if he was telling the Orc that he wanted a timeout. In that moment there was a sharp sound of a bow shooting. A glowing fire arrow hit the Orc in the right thigh causing it to fall to one knee. Just then O’Neil dove off the roof, planning to land on the Orc but the Orc with only one good leg started to slide down the slippery slope causing O’Neil to miss and fall face first in the mud.
About The Author
Russell Parker was born in Bountiful, Utah. As his father was a safety manager he had to move around until his senior year of high school, when he came to Cache Valley, Utah to stay. He married the most wonderful woman in the world and they are the parents of four fantastic kids, with one crazy dog. Russell played all kinds of sports and was an outdoorsman until an accident brought him to writing. A writer since high school, encouragement brout his stories to life.
Welcome to TRB-Lounge, the section of TRB dedicated to book promotions. Today, I’d like to welcome author S.B. Goncarova, for sharing an excerpt from her latest release Harnessing Light.
Read on to get a sneak-peek into this amazing new read!
About The Book
“I SAID GOODNIGHT knowing full well it was goodbye, and then in the dark, you were there, on the bed next to me, only three thousand something miles away, and the quiet sounds of you muddling on your guitar seep into my veins and lull me into that cloudy space between awake and asleep, and in the end I am brought back to the beginning—”
Can one create a love so bright, that it crosses distance and time? In this enduring love story, Harnessing Light is the journey of one woman trekking across the world in a search to find home, peace, purpose and love. In a quest that transcends physical limitations, Harnessing Light beckons us to our own, to discover what the true search really is.
UNCOVERING A DUSTY old piano on an empty stage in an empty room, and thinking she’s alone, she sits down and begins to play. She begins with old songs. Songs once played at weddings, songs once sung for children. But then the songs transpose and mutate and take on their own life. She was a musician once, before she was told she wasn’t. Today, on this day out of time, the world offers itself to her, to recreate what was lost, to stitch a patch on the fabric of time. She knows the destruction of her life work is inevitable. But something compels her to re-create it nonetheless. Us angels in the wings sink to the ground and listen in silence, our cheeks flooding with tears as she works out her inner struggle through the songs, as she decides on yet another path unfamiliar and unproven, as she surmounts the fear of knowing that her dreams could be torn apart, again, at any moment. She enters a place of such sadness that words cannot touch, that touch cannot heal, a place where only music and silence can survive in the dark. This is her grief sung openly to the heavens, her life wisdom inscribed in shimmering morse code, an invisible mandala of silken strands drawn across the sky. A star map, written in beads of dew and the light of the dawn, echoes of constellations, of spirits, of lullabies, of lovers, of heartsongs long forgotten, of the stories of our lives before we live them, written and rewritten and rewritten again.
KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
You can also listen to the following tune related to Harnessing Light:
About The Author
S.B. Goncarova is a writer and visual artist based out of Montréal. She has been the grant recipient of the Puffin Foundation and Barbara Deming Memorial Fund. Her visual work can be found in the Archive of Digital Art, Danube University, Austria, PS1 MoMA Contemporary Art Center Digital Archive, The Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Art Library, and Rutgers University Special Collections.
She loves creating sound compositions for films, combining almost-whispered spoken word with nature sounds, city soundscapes and meditative music. She is currently working on some short video pieces for her ASMR youtube channel called Abba ASMR, which feature segments from Harnessing Light. (Her nieces call her Abba.)
Her next book, “Education of a Diva,” is due out in 2020 by Clay Grouse Press.
Welcome to TRB-Lounge, the section of TRb dedicated to book promotion. And today, I’d like to welcome author C.J, for sharing with us an excerpt from her latest release, a fascinating speculative fiction novel, Beautiful Disaster.
Read ahead to get a sneak-peek into this amazing new read!
About The Book
When chemists Danny and Kevin accidentally create the ultimate beauty cream–with a little inadvertent help from Danny’s biochemist girlfriend, Maggie–they’re convinced they’ve hit the jackpot. After all, who wouldn’t pay anything for the ability to permanently remove blemishes, burns and even scars?
But a discovery like this is one many would kill for–something the three quickly learn when they are targeted by a rival corporation and their murderous corporate spy, Suzanne. Even worse, it isn’t long before the unstable formula’s decidedly nasty side effect pops up. If Maggie, Danny, and Kevin can’t figure out a way to fix it, the world will soon learn that there’s a heavy price to pay for beauty.
As the three scientists struggle to save humanity from potential disaster, they will have to overcome deadly mercenaries, the sociopathic Suzanne, and the man pulling everyone’s strings: the mysterious Boss. Will this Beautiful Disaster be the beginning of a brand-new world or the end of mankind?
Suzanne Verassing, Safety and Human Resource coordinator of Lexi Corp. was making her usual trip to the security office with an armful of baked goods. Since her hire date Suzanne had been cultivating the friendship of all of the security personnel. She believed if she was seen often enough, and shoved enough baked goods down their throats, they would feel she harmless and would cease to notice when she came around or at least not be alarmed when she did. Her plan worked, for, on every trip to the security office, which she made several times a week, she would download several days’ worth of video surveillance on a flash drive she carried with her at all times for opportune moments of piracy. Then she would watch it at her leisure at home or occasionally in a vacant Lexi office and forward any pertinent video off to Teaberry Cosmetics, Lexi Corp’s main competitor.
Suzanne was actually employed by Teaberry, the, CEO of which had no compunctions about getting ahead in the cosmetics business no matter the risk or illegality.
Suzanne Verassing or as she was known at Teaberry, Suzanne Hemlock, was a jack of all trades so to speak, a hired gunslinger for companies, which like Teaberry left their scruples behind after their stock first became public. With her chameleon-like features, Suzanne could fit in anywhere and conform to any type of situation. At five foot four 120 pounds, with shoulder length dark hair and hazel eyes, she had deceivingly soft facial features which contrasted her extremely physically fit and heavily muscled body. She covered up her muscles with long sleeves and full-length skirts. At Lexi, she was the Human Resource woman who wore her hair in barrettes and favored pastels and flower-printed outfits. With a permanent smile on her face, she could always be found around the company delivering home-baked goods to someone’s office or a conference room.
Teaberry hired Suzanne because her abilities included theft, actual and informational, and product sabotage. She was not above seducing anyone who might have valuable information or needed to be slowed down if they were on the verge of a significant breakthrough. She also had a knack for destroying companies from within by preying on the weaknesses of essential members of staff, such as alcoholism, gambling, etc. What Teaberry didn’t know was that Suzanne also was a hired assassin and that she advertised on the dark web for extra money and for the sheer thrill of killing. She especially enjoyed making a murder look like an accident or a natural death. However, there was something to be said for the out and out wham bam bullet through the head approach. She often wondered if she was more of a sociopath or a psychopath but decided that was society’s problem to figure out at some point. For now, she would just enjoy the ride.
For two long years, Suzanne had integrated herself with these self-absorbed non- productive piles of emotionally driven drones. She had plastered on a smile after fake smile. She had signed every birthday, get well, and retirement schlock filled card until she wanted to puke. Known as the happy homemaker of the company, she had brought in baked goods by the dozens, which gave her stomach cramps. Finally, yes finally she was going to get out of this stifling environment and move on to something that didn’t involve skin care or the beauty industry. If it required chemistry, she wanted the end result to at least blow-up.
“Actually that might be a fitting end for Lexi a lab explosion with these annoying lab rats blown up in a fireball. Whoops, something went wrong, and just when they were having a breakthrough, what a horrible tragedy. Well, it’s time to butter up Mitchell and Roger,” Suzanne said to herself as she grabbed a tin of cupcakes and headed for the security office, unaware that she was about to hit pay dirt.
Later, after leaving the security office, she headed on home and watched the video she had downloaded. On it Suzanne saw Kensington and Montgomery (code names, “Dumb and Dumber”) run to the UV-VIS (ultraviolet, visible spectroscopy) with some sort of sample to analyze. She noticed Dumb and Dumber were acting stranger than usual, and something seemed different about them as well. They didn’t look as repulsive as they usually did. Their skin glowed as though they just had a body wrap, which was doubtful. She wasn’t sure they even bathed.
She leaned into her monitor as far as she could while zooming in. Suzanne couldn’t believe what she saw. Kensington and Montgomery both had perfect, unblemished skin. Had they actually come up with something? No. It wasn’t possible, she thought. She waited for them to suddenly combust, or for their first layer of skin to slide off in a crusty heap, but nothing happened. They just stood there grinning at each other and doing what appeared… Wait, they’re seizing. They are having the start of some sort of grand mal. No, oh God, they’re dancing and chest bumping.
She immediately texted her contact at Teaberry, Gretchen Meadows, and told her she was sending a feed off her computer. Once the feed uploaded, Suzanne and Gretchen began an Internet Relay Chat (IRC). They start an Internet Relay Chat (IRC).
G- Why are they analyzing the formula now? Are they double checking the ingredients? They should’ve examined the formula ages ago. They needed to have run it through the spectroscopy months ago for the quantitating determination of the different analytes. They can’t be checking to make sure their sample complies with the Drug and Cosmetic Act for the FDA now. It’s crunch time.
S- I wonder if the morons are using Nanotechnology and or nanoemulsion. That’s a little beyond their limited scope.
G- Of course it was experimental in 1998 and is the new hot ingredient we hide in the label. Of course no one advertises it that way. Who wants to buy something that bores into your skin and then possibly into your bloodstream and lymph system?
S- Think again, G. Some of these women would give 10 years off of their life to look 10 years younger now. What do they care if things run amuck in their system and eventually damage their tissue?
G-Why are you just showing me this now? It looks like they have been working on this for some time. What have you been doing over there?
S-These guys are idiots, grade “A” morons who spend the whole day playing games and socializing. The odds of them coming up with anything slightly marketable and innovative are the same odds of a pig winning the lotto. I’m looking through the previous video to see the breakthrough moment. I’ll also look for any specific ingredients or at least find out where they keep their notes.
G-Teaberry is paying you a lot of money. You had better do more than just look at the video and guess at what they came up with. I want that formula, I want everything surrounding that formula and no trace of anything or anyone connected with it after you have it. Is that clear?
S- Yes, G. I understand. You will have it all and Lexi Corp. will have nothing once again.
G- Signed off.
Suzanne was nervous and for Suzanne nervous was unthinkable. She disregarded the most recent portion of the download since it appeared those two grade A idiots were just throwing ingredients into a bowl. And when they combined the two containers, she figured they were making their lunch again. Several months ago she’d been fooled. While viewing a surveillance video, she thought Dumb and Dumber were looking unusually focused as they compared notes from battered notebooks. She had carefully taken notes of every colored-coded jar, only to learn that the morons had been making chili for themselves and the rest of the lab.
She couldn’t find a moment in any of the videos where Kensington and Montgomery had manufactured a formula. In fact, she could barely find a moment when they were actually working. Suzanne thought she had it back in July, but then a series of explosions and an evacuation of the lab destroyed that possibility.
She sat and pondered things. She began to wonder if the video in which they’d been making chili might have been when they actually created the formula and the latest video with what appeared to be them tossing random ingredients in was part of that same formula. Did I misjudge those idiots? Are they that brilliant that they can come up with a working formula in that short of time? Did they just need a deadline to perform? No. They are idiots that got lucky, and now they will be the late idiots of Lexi Corp.
Suzanne packed a “to go” bag. For her, this meant a Glock 21 .45 cal. with a silencer, a .223 DPMS rifle in a case, plenty of ammo and enough explosives to wipe out an entire city block. She also put in a change of clothes; she would walk past the Tweedles as Suzanne from HR, but would come out a warrior. She put all of this in her Land Rover. Soon after arriving at Lexi Corp., she had the car outfitted with plates registered to that moron Brian Conner. She never drove the Land Rover to Lexi Corp. before given she felt it would not go with her happy homemaker image. But today, when the big bang occurred, the last car seen going through security would be Conner’s Land Rover, and his ID badge would be used in the entryway. It was always good to be prepared and to have a scapegoat, and Conner, the jackass, was perfect.
About The Author
C.J. graduated from Illinois State University and has lived her entire life in the Chicagoland area. She is currently semi-retired, works part-time at the local library and lives with her husband and two dogs, Chili Pepper and Molly. She finally managed to put down on paper the strange and humorous story that had been with her for several years. This is that story and this is her first book.
Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Kevin Hollingsworth, for sharing with us the excerpt from his latest poetry collection Stellar.
Read ahead to get a sneak-peek into this soulful collection.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
“Stellar” is an interesting as well as compelling book of prose poetry that encompasses the wonderment of love. Further, stories of romance, love, and tragedy are told creatively through the eyes of 106 poems.
In “Stellar” one will have a chance to go on an odyssey of figurative language, and will also get a refreshing sense of the human condition; that we all need, and yearn for love.
In “Stellar” one will also have a unique opportunity to view emotionalism seemingly painted by the masters. However, these poetic words of distinction cannot fit on a canvas; but are to be read on paper, and enjoyed by you and your imagination…
“She was the most beautiful ocean. She was the most beautiful breeze. I looked up, and I saw her beauty design the sky.”…
From the poem Blessing In Disguise:
“As he fainted, he saw her from the corner of his eye. She was as pretty as the French language. Her song was like a dream he once knew”
About the Author
I have been a dreamer since I was born in N.Y.C. My dreams started September 20th, 1968. I moved to Los Angeles, California when I was very young. I received my education in Los Angeles, and joined the workforce a couple of years after graduating from college…
I did not start writing poetry until later in life. Friends and family really enjoyed the beautiful words I shared with them. So, I continued to write, and published my first prose poetry book, “Wonders,” in 2009. I published my second book of prose, “Romance with A Touch of Love” in 2011.
The dreams kept coming; and I continued to be inspired to write beautiful words. I am honored to share these beautiful words with the world in “Stellar.”