Tuesday, July 7, 2015

An excerpt from the current work in progress

Here's a bit of something from the current work in progress. Digi City is its tentative title. That will probably change. This is the next story in the New Eden series. Next meaning it's the third book and will come after the second that was released earlier this year. It is not, however, the third book in the timeline. If you've read the first two then you know there is a gap between where the first ended and the second begins. This story falls in the gap. I think there will be three or four in there. I'm calling them the "Stories from the In Between." I like the way that sounds, and it will fill in the holes for the reader and set up the ending of this part of the New Eden series.

This story focuses on Miller, the antagonist from the second Rexall book. I've always liked him. He deserves his own story. He's an interesting guy.

Anyway, the bit I mentioned. Here it is. Hope you like it. It's just a few paragraphs, but maybe it will whet your appetite.


Miller stepped out onto the tenth floor, the area of Tallboy given to the older addicts. These were the guys who’d been on the wire for a long time. They weren’t plugging in for thrills. They were plugging in to forget, soldiers who’d seen things and done things that they couldn’t let go of.

These were the guys that Miller would be laying beside if he gave into the draw of digital.

Wires fell in bunches from the ceiling, bundles thick as tree trunks breaking up what was mostly open space. Guys were along the walls, most of them plugged in and passed out. Miller quickly studied faces as he passed. His port itched, and he pushed the desire to plug in farther down.

These guys all looked the same. They’d fallen under the spell of digital. Any chance of respectability was burned away in a fire of bits and bytes that they couldn’t do without. Miller had seen it before. Soldiers he’d respected would crack the governor on their port just as an experiment after they get their discharge. None of them planned to end up in a place like this, laid against some wall with drool wetting their shirts and pooling on the floor in front of them. Worse, none of them expected to die. But some did, and those who didn’t were here or someplace like it. Those were the two endings to this story. No one just experimented with digital once or twice. You didn’t get to try a sample then say “No, thank you.” Digital sunk its claws fast and deep. Miller didn’t want to get sucked in. That’s why he’d taught himself to push the desire farther and farther down. So far down now that it was coming out of his toes, seeping out from under the nails and gathering in his shoes.

The faces were starting to blend together. Miller stopped and closed his eyes. He pictured the face in the photo that Cruz had shown him. The high forehead. The short hair. The pronounced nose and deep-set eyes.

He started walking the walls again, and that’s when he saw him. He was the loner, plugged in to a wire far from everyone else. He was laid out on the floor, his head resting on an outstretched arm. Passed out. Mouth fallen open.

Miller went over and sat beside him, leaning against the wall. Miller watched him for a minute. The man was still. Miller put a finger under his nose. Just to check. Then he waited.

He watched the junkies — the data freaks who had given themselves to the pull — slowly wake. Watched them try to stand. Stumble to their unsteady feet like a calf just from the womb. They’d grab for the wall. They’d fall to a knee. They’d find their footing then slowly shuffle from the room, likely collapsing somewhere in the stairwell on the way down. They’d wet themselves at some point before mustering the energy and stability to make it to the bottom. It’d be hours before they’d be back to themselves.

Miller grabbed one of the loose wires that had spilled out of the bundle in front of him. He licked his thumb and ran it across the end and felt the jolt of digital dance up his arm. He flinched instinctively then licked the palm of his hand. He rubbed the arm of the man next to him and left a smear of spit across his bicep. He grabbed a handful of wires from the floor and jammed them into the man’s arm. His body tensed, and his eyes shot open.

Miller smiled. “Wakey wakey,” he said.