Posted in New Release, News

The Path To Space Force

Most of last week my blog hosted authors who share one thing in common: They were among the 11 chosen by editor Doug Irvin to have their stories included in Space Force: Building The Legacy. The new military sci-fi anthology, based on the newly created United States Space Force, is now live on Amazon as both an e-book and in print.

EBOOK_COVER copy

When Doug approached me with the idea, I was intrigued, not only for the potential of the anthology, but by the overall concept of the United States Space Force itself. As someone who has read, watched, listened to and otherwise mentally devoured science fiction for nearly five decades, the real and the fictional USSF was right up my alley.

After I moved to Nebraska two years ago, I started a podcast produced by Midlands Scribes Productions. I created that entity with an eye on eventually expanding it into a publishing imprint that focused on Midwestern authors. Tuscany Bay Books remains open to all authors everywhere, but Midlands Scribes Publishing will have a narrower focus.

Doug Irvin, being a Texan, had delivered a perfect first opportunity for MSP and I took on the role as the anthologies publisher while Doug went out and rustled up some submissions. And, according to Doug, we got quite a few and from all over the world. In the end, the book is an international effort with authors from the United States, Canada and the U.K.

Among the 11 authors you will also find members, both current and former, of the United States Air Force and the Royal Air Force. One author even was assigned to the United States Air Force Space Command at one time. From the depths of both experience and imagination you will find 11 incredible stories that I am sure you will enjoy reading as much as Doug and I did.

That being said, when we first embarked on this journey, I had no intention of submitting a story to it. I’ve never written military sci-fi. I’ve barely read it aside from less than a dozen short stories and books. But one thing you’ll notice from my bibliography is that I’m not afraid to take on a new genre when the muse strikes. And, at literally the 11th hour, the muse knocked on the door and tempted me with a story concept.

So I put together CAG, which Navy folk will recognize as – Commander Air Group – polished it up a bit and sent it over to Doug.

Lest you think that I was an automatic accepted story because I’m the publisher, allow me to insert this edict I’ve given to every editor of an anthology I’ve published from this one to the Planetary Anthology Series: If you don’t like my story it does NOT make it into the book! I want the best possible collection to be presented and I’m also an old enough dog in this business to understand that rejections are part of the deal and my feels don’t get bent out of shape when I get them. And yes, I still get them.

Back to CAG, off it went to Doug, who obviously liked it because it is one of the 11 stories in Space Force: Building The Legacy. As an author you know you’ve hot the mark when the editor tells you that even though they’ve read the story several times and know what’s coming it still hits them emotionally.

CAG in this story is Lt. CMDR Robert “Cag” Carrington, Commander Air Group on board the carrier USS Shepard. Cag and his wingman, Matthew “Preacher” Carson, are on patrol in near-Earth orbit. Escorting cargo ships, keeping an eye out for pirates and other menaces is their daily routine. Carrington is a widower, his only child already embarking on his own career in Space Force and is reflecting upon his career as he enters his final month in the service.

But on this patrol, the two pilots will be put into the crucible. There’s will be the only ships standing between Earth and an asteroid on a collision course with our world. If they cannot stop it, no one on the surface below will survive.

As I mentioned before, Doug loved the story and I have to admit, despite my trepidations at tackling the genre for the first time, I’m really happy with it myself. The challenge with all short stories is developing both the characters and a fully in-depth plot in such a short space. With CAG, I believe I found that balance and accomplished both.

I hope you enjoy reading my entry into this incredible anthology as much as I did in writing it. And I also hope you enjoy reading the other 10 stories as much as I did too.

You can get Space Force: Building The Legacy on Amazon in e-book and print right here:

SPACE FORCE: BUILDING THE LEGACY

 

Future_USSF_SEAL_2
Not The Official Seal of the United States Space Force. This is a proposed seal for the USSF circa 2120 created specifically for this anthology.

 

Posted in Guest Post, New Release

Guest Post: Jim Robb on Space Force

Author Jim Robb takes over my blog today. He is one of 11 authors in the military sci-fi anthology, Space Force: Building The Legacy, edited by Doug Irvin and published by Midlands Scribes Publishing. The e-book is scheduled for a Memorial Day release and you can order the print edition now to be delivered around that same day at the link above. Jim’s story is: Olivia and the Asteroid Pirates.  

 

I’m Jim Robb, and I wrote the story, “Olivia and the Asteroid Pirates”, which will appear in “Space Force: Building the Legacy”.

Back in my university days I accidentally found my way into the sport of fencing. One of the members of our club was a fellow student, a good friend — I was best man at his wedding — and one of the most challenging opponents I ever faced. His favourite tactic was the attack in second intention — he would make a false attack intended to draw an anticipated response which he would parry, and then proceed to win the hit with his counter-riposte. He had adopted this technique, he told me, after reading about it in a novel titled, “Scaramouche”. He in turn taught it to me, and it served me well.

This also served as my introduction to the works of Rafael Sabatini, the author of “Scaramouche”. Sabatini wrote some three dozen romance and adventure novels in the first half of the 20th century, several of which were made into swashbuckler films starring the likes of Tyrone Power and Errol Flynn. Once I started reading Sabatini’s stories I quickly became a fan. I was even lucky enough to find a first edition of his 1932 novel, “The Black Swan”, in a second-hand bookshop in Ottawa.

“Olivia and the Asteroid Pirates” is very much a tribute to Rafael Sabatini. As such, its title character shares her surname with a character in “The Black Swan”, and the leader of the asteroid pirates uses the name of that story’s hero as his nom de guerre. There had to be romance and, of course, a happy ending.

Most importantly, I had to find an excuse to make swordplay an integral part of a story set in the early part of the next century. My major break with the swashbuckler tradition came because I didn’t want Olivia to be a mere damsel in distress, so she became a combatant in her own right. I owed that much to my wife, my comrade-in-arms both with épée and C7 rifle.

The story is also my way of saying thanks to my friend Ken. You can be sure he’ll be getting an autographed copy of the book.

Future_USSF_SEAL_2
Not The Official Seal of the United States Space Force. This is a proposed seal for the USSF circa 2120 created specifically for this anthology.
Posted in Guest Post, New Release

Guest Post: Brennen Hankins on Space Force

Author Brennen Hankins takes over my blog today. He is one of 11 authors in the military sci-fi anthology, Space Force: Building The Legacy, edited by Doug Irvin and published by Midlands Scribes Publishing. The e-book is scheduled for a Memorial Day release and you can order the print edition now to be delivered around that same day at the link above. Brennen’s story is: One Time, One Night on Aldrin Station.  

 

On an otherwise normal weekday, I stumbled upon a unique opportunity, via my Facebook feed. I was in the middle of surfing through my notifications on my lunch break when I saw a call for submisssions to the “Space Force: Building A Legacy” anthology. The title struck me, and I immediately had a vision for a story.

You see, during my military career, I’ve heard it said multiple times that “Logistics win EBOOK_COVER copywars.” Off the top of my head, I can think of a few examples of this in action: logistics were a large factor in the reason why Texas ended up part of the United States instead of a Mexican one, why nobody has ever successfully invaded Russia from Europe, and why the Allies won over the Axis powers in World War II.

However, that’s only one part of the equation. In order to ensure a successful supply chain, not only do you have to be able to move goods and troops from one point to another, you have to move them to a secure point, where the resources in question can be utilized effectively. Troops need a place to sleep and eat. Planes, tanks and Humvees all need places to where they can take on fuel and have maintenance and repairs done. And you’re going to need spots to store all the food, cots and tools you need to accomplish this….

Thus, strategically located, fortified bases win logistics, which in turn, win wars.

These bases don’t spring up overnight, though. It’s a long road from a couple of tents set up under natural concealment to a fortified, heavily defended encampment, to an established base, complete with parade ground, Military Personnel & Finance Office, and bowling alley (Seriously). In the Air Force, such accomplishments are usually done via the backs and hands of Civil Engineering (CE) personnel/

It seemed only natural that the fledgling Space Force—which, upon venturing into unchartered space, would need to establish the same bases and supply chains as the American Armed Forces did when island hopping in the Pacific—would follow suit.

My entire military career has been within CE. This story pretty much wrote itself.

A few details needed to be established. Firstly, as America’s earliest migrants discovered along the Oregon Trail, there were bound to be indigenous folk around who didn’t take kindly to newcomers moving into their territory. Enter the Kalanuskanites, proud defenders of the frozen, vapor-shrouded moon of Titan. Second, rank protocols. My NCO buddies and I have been joking for awhile that those of us who got pulled from the Air Force to the Space Force, should it ever happen, would be reclassified as “Space Stargeants”, and I would be very remiss if I passed up the opportunity to use the joke in a meaningful way. Third, characters. Stargeant Grantham is an amalgam of every irritable, frazzled, ill-tempered Staff Sergeant I’ve ever met in my career, but Spaceman Padilla is partially based on a real person. (Specifically, an airman who had the unmitigated gall to play Wham’s “Last Christmas” within my presence last December, forcing me to experience “Whamaggeddon” for the first time, and to also write the single funniest (joke) Letter of Counseling in my career.) Throw in a few side characters, and the rest is history.

So, I had my characters, I had my setting, and I had my plot. But something else was missing.

Heart.

What makes a person do the things they do? Why do servicemen and women willingly sign their life and freedom (in part) away to serve their county. What motivates them to leave their families, get sent to far-off lands for extended periods of time, and put up with overbearing leadership, regulations that at times can seem impractical and nonsensical, and just the general drudgery of working in a massive organization?

Simple: These people love what they do.

I can speak on this one from experience. My job is awesome. I’ve traveled to places I never would have seen otherwise, made lifelong friends the world over I still keep in touch with today, and trained me in a skill that, if this writing thing doesn’t pan out, should help me make a good living once I finally separate from the military. Shoot, it’s because of the military that I’m even able to afford to sit down and write this blog post. Not exactly sure what I’d be doing otherwise. And I know I’m not the only person who has this mentality.

So, I wrote a story about people whose hearts are filled with dreams of space, who are just as eager to help get the rest of us off this mudball and into the stars.  Only difference is in the future, they have the means to lay the groundwork for us.

After all, heart (and logistics) wins wars.

 

Future_USSF_SEAL_2
Not The Official Seal of the United States Space Force. This is a proposed seal for the USSF circa 2120 created specifically for this anthology.
Posted in Guest Post, New Release, Writer's Life

Guest Post: Doug Irvin on Space Force

Editor Doug Irvin takes over my blog today. He is the man who started it all, coming up with the idea for the military sci-fi anthology, Space Force: Building The Legacy, published by Midlands Scribes Publishing. The e-book is scheduled for a Memorial Day release and you can order the print edition now to be delivered around that same day at the link above. 

Welcome to the opening of a new era, the era when space as an operating environment comes of age.

When I first heard the 45th President of the US call for a new branch of the military, my first reaction was excitement. Sure, several nations have ventured outside our atmosphere, and several vehicles have landed on the Moon, as well as Mars. But where

EBOOK_COVER copy

other branches of service have played a part in space activities, it was the primary focus for none of them. This announcement, however, set in motion a dedicated intent to go into space, and stay there.

My second reaction was the thought, what would their legacy over time be like. At this point, the Space Force had no legacy to lean on. Every other military of every nation on Earth has a legacy, a history, that helps define their members outlook. They all have their heroes, their screw-ups, their examples of how to behave – and how not to.

With that thought in mind I asked a few people I knew who were involved in either publishing or editing. The initial reaction wasn’t overwhelming. Hey, everyone has their own concerns, their own priorities. Developing a series of stories for a new concept wasn’t a pressing issue.

But several weeks later, one editor contacted me. If I were willing to undertake the receiving and editing of stories, he had a publishing imprint he had started a few years before, but never used. Would I take the challenge?

Would I! So with his guidance a call was put out for stories. And people responded.

The stories contained here are a sample of the ones I received. Some of the stories I couldn’t use. Understand that I did not have a theme I wanted the stories to follow (I won’t make that mistake again!), though I did have a few limiters. I decided that the Legacy would span a century of time – the first one hundred years of the Space Force. The stories had to project the Space Force in a positive light. A lot of very good stories don’t do that; but a negative slant wasn’t what I wanted.

And it had to be the United States Space Force. Several good stories fell out of the running because they presented more of a United Nations force. That was too wide a gap to span. A multi-national force has too great a swing in customs for a fledgling branch to handle. Too much dilution of ethos.

There was no restriction to the nationality of the writers – and in fact we have several foreign nationals represented here. But their stories maintained a USSF centered outlook.

In all, I’m impressed with the shared vision these people have presented. They aren’t identical, but they portray an identical wish for the stars. I hope you like them.

Many years ago I ran across a phrase that motivates me, and I think it does for these people.

Un rêve d’étoiles – A dream of stars.

That’s a fine focus.

Future_USSF_SEAL_2
Not The Official Seal of the United States Space Force. This is a proposed seal for the USSF circa 2120 created specifically for this anthology.

 

Posted in New Release, News

Space Force: Building The Legacy

My friend Doug Irvin had a brainstorm not too long ago. When President Trump announced the formation of the United States Space Force as the newest branch of the U.S. Military, Doug thought it would be a great idea to write so speculative fiction about the first 100 years of the new service.

He had the general theme and he wanted it to be a collection of short stories. But what he didn’t have was a working knowledge of how to get the completed collection published. Which is where I entered the picture.

Tuscany Bay Books is swamped as far as its production schedule for 2020 what with the Planetary Anthology Series cranking out a new title every six weeks until February 2, 2021. So TBB couldn’t publish it.

But, with Doug doing the heavy lifting of putting out the submission call, sifting through the subs and selecting those he felt were best suited for the anthology, I could handle the publishing side of it for him.

Thus, under the Midlands Scribes Publishing banner, Space Force: Building The Legacy was given the green light. As you can see from the link, the book is up on Amazon for a May 25, 2020 release and you can pre-order your e-book copy right now. There’s even a cool book trailer for it too.

Doug has done an excellent job assembling 11 talented authors from around the globe. Yes, it isn’t just American authors who wanted in on the action. Three different countries and two continents are represented in this collection. We even had one sub from Italy.

EBOOK_COVER copyWhich left it to me to get the manuscript formatted for print and e-book, get the covers for both formats ready, get the book trailer together and all of the other little details that goes with putting a book up on Amazon these days.

I’m happy to say that I couldn’t be more happier with the final product. And I am sure that you will enjoy reading these stories too.

When we first decided to launch this project, I hadn’t intended to submit a story to it. I’ve never written anything close to Military Sci-Fi in my life. But one thing I have noticed over the past few years is I haven’t been afraid to try writing in a genre that I’ve never written in before. Okay, I sincerely doubt you’ll ever catch me writing romance or erotica (Hey, I’m a guy, so…) but who knows?

Still, one fine day, when I found myself with nothing to do for all of three minutes, I had an idea pop into my head that I thought would fit the parameters of what Doug was looking for and decided to give it a go. Even if he said no, at least I had tried my hand at MilSciFi.

As an aside, Doug had the clear option to airlock my story if he didn’t like it. This was also made clear to the editors of the Planetary Series. Just because my name is attached to the publishing house, doesn’t mean I get a free pass. If its a no, its a no and I’ll have no issue with that.

In this case, Doug liked the story and included it. The title is simple: CAG. Military folk will know who the main character is from the title. Doug’s reaction after he read it was: “You went full Heinlein!” I’ll take that compliment and run, especially on my first attempt in the master’s genre.

The other ten stories? I’ve read them all and they are incredibly well done. After you have read them, I think you’ll agree.

My only disappointment is that I had intended the print edition to be the old pocketbook paperback size of the pulp days of Heinlein. A 4″ by 6″ book that could easily slip into the back pocket of your blue jeans or the jacket pocket of one of our servicemen and women. Sadly, the smallest size Amazon allows is 5″ by 8″. So we’ll roll with that size and pray everyone has big pockets.

So, in the meantime, check out the trailer at the link above and pre-order your copy. Doug’s already hinting at a second Space Force anthology. Hmmm, I have a story idea that might work for that one too…

 

Posted in New Release, Writer's Life

Free Story Friday: The Last Hunt

I’ve been sharing free sci-fi books I’ve found on my social media for the past few weeks. This week I thought I’d shake it up a little and share a short story I wrote two years ago.

Men.B

The story,  The Last Hunt, was published in 2018 as part of the To Be Men anthology by Superversive Press.

Given recent events regarding the COVID-19 virus, it struck me that much of the backstory for The Last Hunt seems eerily similar to what we are seeing today. While there are no “super-cities sealed off from the rural lands behind giant walls” today, we have seen a cultural separation of sorts between the cities and the rural areas in the United States.

And, as mentioned in this story, the people in the big cities are trapped in lockdowns, streets are barren and stores closed while the people are “trapped” in their homes. But in many rural areas the impact has not been quite so severe and much of their everyday lives continue unabated.

So, without further ado, please enjoy this short story I wrote two years ago with the hope that it helps you pass the time – and the further hope that this story remains a work of fiction and not a forecast of things to come.

(*- All rights to this story are the authors and are fully reserved. No unauthorized copying or reprinting of this story without the permission of the author is permitted.) 

 

THE LAST HUNT

by Richard Paolinelli

 

I turn forty years old today and I will mark the milestone by making it the last day of life on this Earth for a man whose name I do not know.  I have never met him. He has never personally done me wrong, nor I him. I had never seen him before in my life until I picked up his trail just three days ago.

There will be no birthday cake, no party, no presents, no family or friends gathered around to help celebrate the day as there have been in years past. Only a man’s death, by murder or by execution depending on how you choose to look at it, and that delivered by my own hand.

In the past year, I have been the bringer of death to seven men and four women. You might call it murder while those who tasked me with the mission call it a justified execution. I, and the other seven hunters who like me embarked on this mission across what had once been known as North America, simply called it our duty. It is a duty that we have tried to carry out as swiftly and as mercifully as possible. Well, at least most of us do.

All I want to do is finish this final task and return home to my family and work my farm once again after being away for so long. It was my curse to be a skilled tracker and a marksman with a rifle from any distance, great or small. Those qualities made me a prime candidate to be a Hunter. Knowing that the fate of humanity was at stake, especially if the best at what we do did not accept our mission, gave me little choice but to put down my plowshare, take up my gun and do my duty.

The journey to this day began before I was even born with a fateful decision by the ancestors of those I have hunted. A little over a century ago ours was a united country of fifty states between Canada and Mexico and the future ahead was filled with limitless possibilities. But within two decades the country had splintered and those on either side held the view that if you were not one of “Us” then you were one of “Them.” There were a handful of course, caught between the two sides, that tried to hold the country together but the strain was too great – perhaps not even God himself could have held it intact much longer – and the inevitable finally happened.

On the one side were those that gathered in great numbers in the larger cities, living their lives in a jungle of concrete, asphalt and steel. Rare it was to find a tree, much less a blade of grass, among the roads, sidewalks and buildings that stretched into the clouds. High technology was their god. The dirty air above and the even dirtier streets below seemed to permeate into their very souls. No depravity was frowned upon and the residents of the megacities began to look down upon those living out in the rural areas beyond their city limits. Even though the cities relied on these rural areas to provide fresh water, grow the vegetables and raise the livestock that provided them with the food and water they needed to survive, they still sneered and derided the “regressive” people out in the wastelands they called “flyover country.”

Those that chose to live out in “flyover country” were more than happy to let them stay in their bloated cities as long as those big-city people refrained from trying to tell them how to live their lives. They had tech of course, but they did not abandon all of the old ways their ancestors had used to survive. Theirs might be a simpler way of living, but it was a good way to live. I can attest to that as it is the way I and my family live today. None of us feel deprived of anything by our choice, nor did any of those who came before us.

Yet, those in the big cities seemed to be enraged by the lack of envy shown by our ancestors. For years they tried to force their ways upon us without success. Then when those they had looked down upon for so long loudly and clearly rejected them and all they stood for, the big cities made a fatal decision. They disowned the country and rejected all that it had been founded on. Amazingly, those in the larger cities in Canada and Mexico quickly followed suit and cut themselves off from their former countrymen.

The cities began walling themselves off from the rest of their country. Some cities – like Phoenix, Denver, Miami and Atlanta – stood as sole sentinels of progressive perfection behind concrete walls standing forty feet in height. Others became mega-areas as multiple cities combined to build one massive wall around them. All of the Bay Area was united behind one oval wall that even stretched out into the ocean. Philadelphia stood at one end of an oval wall, with all of the Burroughs of New York City at the other and New Jersey nestled in between. D.C. and Baltimore had become one megacity, as had Buffalo and Toronto and San Antonio and Austin in Texas.

When the last of the walls were complete, thirty megacities from Montreal to Mexico City dotted the North American landscape. A hyperloop train, running on tracks miles below ground, connected all of the megacities as well as cities in Europe, Central and South America, Asia and Australia. There were no access points to the tunnels anywhere but within the cities, not that those outside the walls would ever want to access them in the first place. When the hyperloop was up and running and the tops of the walls thickly lined with razor wire to prevent anyone from climbing over, all of the access doors built into the wall were permanently sealed.

Nearly a quarter-century ago, the megacities sealed themselves behind those walls, forever closing out those that lived on the other side. Any needed food and water were shipped in along those underground trains. The progressives of the megacities were finally rid of the deplorable masses out in the hated “flyover country,” once and for all.

Oh, they liked to let us know how much better things were for them than it was for us. We could receive their news broadcasts and some kept in occasional touch with relatives living somewhere within one of the walled cities. For the most part we just shook our heads and happily went about our business of living our lives as we saw fit.

And what we saw as the perfect way to live was to limit the sizes of our towns. Few buildings ever reached higher than three stories. We ate what we raised or hunted, living not only off the land but in conjunction with it, conserving and managing it so that it would always provide enough for all of the generations to follow. We have tech of course, but it too was carefully managed so that it did not dominate our way of life. It was a tool, like any other, carefully and wisely used to our benefit.

We were content.

Then it happened. I suppose you could say it was inevitable, especially with the mega-cities having trapped themselves like bacteria in a Petri dish. I don’t know if they ever figured out where it began or even who Patient Zero was, but the Jaesmin Plague spread like wildfire to every point of the globe connected to the mega-cities by the hyperloop tunnels. We knew it was contagious, although it was not an airborne plague which meant we were not likely to contract it simply by breathing the same air blown from the cities.

It had no vaccine or cure.

Because of the close trade ties, all of the continents quickly fell victim to the disease. All except the one they had all shunned, those parts of North America outside the towering walls. We could monitor the news coming from the rest of the world and quickly moved to make sure no plague-carrying refugees landed upon our shores. We did not need to worry about the mega-cities, or so we thought, for they had so effectively sealed us out that they had literally sealed themselves within their own coffins. Yet, roughly one hundred residents managed to find a way out of the deathtraps before the plague claimed them.

Thus the Hunters were born. Eight of us, sworn to perform a grim duty, sent out to hunt down these escapees before they could spread this pandemic. For our families and friends we undertook the task, assigned to eight different regions to track down the threat and eliminate it. We could not let them live, even in exile, not with the death they carried within them. The plague was merciless, having already wiped out billions across the globe. For all we knew, the forty million of us living outside the now-dead megacities across North America were all that remained of the human race. In the name of preservation of the species, these one hundred had to die.

I was given Region V, an area that included the megacities of Kansas City, St. Louis, Minneapolis-St. Paul and the Chicago-Madison-Milwaukee megaplex. Most of the escapees I was sent to run to ground had come from that massive megaplex and they took some time to run down.

Of the eleven of them I actually got within shouting distance of or closer, they all pleaded with me to let them live. They promised to stay away from us. But it was a risk I had no right to take. I told you earlier, I took no pleasure in carrying out this mission and granted them as swift and as painless a death as I could. The bodies and the nests they had left behind were burned. After every kill I would impose a seventy-two-hour quarantine and then test myself to ensure I had not contracted the plague.

So far I’ve been lucky. The Hunter assigned to Region VII made her final kill just outside Atlanta only to discover she had become infected. Her final message included her shooting herself in the head as the shack her final target had called home went up in flames.

The Hunter in Region II had been a good man, but his sixteenth, and final, execution had been one too many and he’d gone mad. The Hunter in Region I had been sent in after him and she had been forced to kill him before he attacked a small town of innocent, and very uninfected, people.

After one long year, there remains only one living escapee, this man I am closing in on in a wooded area just outside the ruins of Minneapolis-St. Paul. With two Hunters dead and the other five having completed their mission and returned to their homes it falls to me to rid our world of the last threat of human extinction.

So here I sit, waiting beside the only water within twenty miles, waiting for my quarry to come and drink. Humans cannot survive more than a week without it and I know he has gone quite some time without any water. He has no choice but to risk coming here and hope that I am not waiting for him.

I see him now, cautiously approaching the stream-fed lake, his gaze darting all over. His clothing was not made for roughing it in the woods and was torn and tattered. He looked  pathetic and miserable out of his element. I felt a pang of sympathy for this poor creature and then forcibly steeled my heart against such a feeling. Too much is at stake for me to yield to the natural feeling of compassion one human would have for one in such dire straits as this one.

In a time long since passed, honor would have demanded that I at least give him a chance to make his peace with his maker. But I am too close to him now and the disease he carries does not allow me the luxury to risk such exposure.

I do grant him the only small measure of mercy that I can however, allowing him to drink his fill of the cool, clean water. Even this act is tempered though by the fact that if he falls into the lake after I fire, he could contaminate the water.  So I wait and let him stand up and step away from the lakeside.

Then I fire.

My last hunt is finally over.

After I burn the body and his nest, assuming that I survive the quarantine period, I can finally go home to my family, my farm and my old life. I have killed a dozen, to save millions. When I look upon the lovely face of my wife, and the sweet faces of my children, I will know why what I have done was necessary and I will be able to live with what I have done. This is the truth I will hold fast to when the nightmares come to remind me of what I have done this past year.

As I set about disposing of the body and the infected nest it had once called home an old verse from the Bible comes unbidden to my mind: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Now, I can go home.

*     *     *     *     *

Be sure to check out Richard’s 1K Weekly Serial series. Every week, a new chapter of the story is added. Currently, Ricard is writing, The Calling, a Star Trek Fan Fiction that will reach across three generations of Star Trek lore. Be sure and check out the other stories that have been written in full right here.

*     *     *     *     *

Like what you’ve read so far? Be sure and sign up for Richard’s newsletter, “Postcards From Infinity“, and if you’d like to become a patron you can do so right here. Any amount you choose will be appreciated and will help keep this blog, these weekly serials and Richard’s podcast, “A Scribe’s Journey” up and running. Thank you for reading and for your support.

POSTCARD_INFINITY copy