Tag Archives: 16Sunsets

16Sunsets – Subtitle: For the want of a cheeseburger

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Kristoff took a huge bite of his cheeseburger. Krystal watched a ketchup-soaked onion slice fall and land on the paper wrapper spread out on a tray. She ordered a garden salad, but hadn’t eaten any of it. Kristof saw the errant onion slice and squeezed it between two French fries and ate the whole thing.

“Man, I’m starving.” He took a long pull on the straw of his extra large beverage. “I’m not sure when I ate last.”

“Hon…” Krystal said and waited for a response from her husband. He operated the straw once again and raised his eyebrows. “We really do need to talk.” She said.

Kristof emptied the contents of his cup with a loud annoying slurp. He scanned the room for the soda dispenser. “Sure thing, babe. Lemmie get a refill first.” Kristof stood, shoved a handful of fries in his mouth and made his way toward the soda dispenser.

“Why does this have to be so hard?” she whispered to herself as Kristof laughed at something another patron said in line to use the soda machine. It’s supposed to be hard. She thought to herself. You’re considering leaving your husband.

Kristof was a difficult man to live with. She knew of his mood swings and told herself excusing his juvenile behavior was something that married couples just did. She never fully understood his feelings towards his family. She knew he was an only child and his mother died when he was young. One day on the anniversary of his mother’s death, he was feeling especially vulnerable and confided that he believed his father murdered his mother and fled before the police could perform a proper investigation. Years later, the case was reopened and it was determined his mother had died of natural causes, but his father’s flight was still suspicious. By this time, Kristof had been in the system and had a few run-ins with law enforcement.

“This guy…” Kristof sat and placed his cup at the corner of his burger wrapper. He wasn’t satisfied with the position, and moved it so it covered the condensation ring completely. “This guy says the service is so slow, robbing the place would be pointless because by the time they emptied the registers, the cops would already be here.” Kristof ate another huge bite of his cheeseburger followed by another pull of his soda.

His cheek bulged. “People.” He said before shoveling more fries into his mouth.

“Kristof!” Krystal raised her voice. It was loud enough for those tables near them to look. She leaned forward and lowered her voice. “We need to talk.”

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16Sunsets – Cover Reveal

There’s been a lot of back and forth between myself and Joel on the final cover. We got input on the title and logo and I think this is pretty darn close to being done:

Latest 16Sunsets cover


16Sunsets – Jade Palace

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“Temüjin?”

“I’m Temüjin.”

“Come with us, Sir.”

Temüjin sized up the two women who had come to take him to learn his fate.

“Don’t even try it.” The shorter of the two women declared. “I’ve got the strength gene and Qing has the vision gene.”

“So you’re telling me,” Temüjin replied, voice dripping with scorn, “I need to blind her, and what? What is the antithesis of super strength?”

Qing replied. “He’s bluffing, Ling. The pulse in his carotid artery isn’t increasing.”

Ling retorted. “As if a freak like him could do anything if he so desired.”

Qing laughed. “Be careful, Ling, his pulse is up. Perhaps he really does have a power.” She paused for effect. “The power to get angry!”

Ling and Qing grasped the fuming Temüjin firmly by the arms and led him to the Jade Palace.

* * *

“We must keep our bloodline clean!” Annie pounded her dais to emphasize her point. “We mustn’t allow these f…” She paused and contemplated what she was about to say. “defects to dilute our million year old ancestry.”

“Mistress,” a court council interrupted. “Temüjin has already established those without an activated gene are quite capable and have the ability to become contributing members of society.”

“Temüjin Khan,” She spat the title Khan as if it left a foul taste in her mouth. “is a nobody. He and his followers wish to make us all weak.” She brought her full attention to the councilor who interrupted her. “What does nature do to the weak?”

“Nature culls the weak and rewards the strong.” The councilor droned.

Anne crossed her arms as if the councilor had made her point.

“With all due respect, Mistress.” The councilor chose his next words carefully. “Since his banishment forty years ago, he has raised an army, united the nomad tribes and his lineage continues two generations. Mistress, in another forty years his kind will match us in population. Forty years after that, his kind will outnumber us four to one.”

Anne leaned forward and growled. “Then we’ll just exterminate them.”

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Updates

16Sunsets is up to 8575 words written. Pretty soon, I’ll hit 20% of the minimum word count to be considered a novel (that’s 50k for those of you who need to know.) There’s so much stuff I need to fit into the story. Now that the cover is done, I’m itching to write this thing. Click on the “16Sunsets” tag to read the nine installments so far.

I was toying with the idea of producing some very limited edition compilations of some of my digital-only stuff and other short stories. I may select some flash fiction items so let me know in the comments which ones I should include. There’s a “flash fiction” category for those.

For those of you who have access to a local library, head over there when you have a spare moment and request Forlorn Hope or Body Rentals. The paperbacks of both those books are offered at severely discounted prices to libraries.

Champion Standing has been finalized and proofs are in the mail. Preorders will start on October 15th with a release date of Friday, January 2nd, 2015. Champion Rising is still planned, but as I’ve said before, it’s on hiatus while I work on 16Sunsets.

Finally, for those of you looking for flash fiction prompts, here is a list of sites to check out:
Sunday: Sunday Photo Fiction
Wednesday: Thain in Vain #FFC52
Thursday: Woegman’s Tropetastic Thursday
Friday: Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds
If you know of any writing prompts on Monday, Tuesday or Saturday, mention it in the comments.


16Sunsets – See no Evil

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Major Jacob Globe toed a statue of three meerkats sitting on a log. They were in the classic speak no evil, see no evil, hear no evil pose. He stood in a designated smoking area, lined with fake clover. He looked straight up at the open roof and saw a flock of birds fly overhead. The orange sky was getting darker. Sixteen Sunsets, he thought. What did it mean? He took another drag and shivered. The smoking area only featured a single lamp and a heating tower. This late at night he didn’t bother to turn it on. He would’ve been done smoking before it put out enough heat.

“Major?”

Jacob looked up to see his assistant leaning through the doorframe and into the smoking area. She wrinkled he brow and brought her hand up to her nose before stepping back. He dropped his cigarette beside the meerkat statue and crushed it under his boot.

“Recent news on subject three-one-six.” She handed him a flash drive and hurried away.

* * *

“The unidentified man and his female companion left the restaurant before authorities arrived on site. We go now to eyewitness news reporter Amber Ambrosa on the scene.”

The scene changed from the news anchor to a woman in front of a fast food joint.

“Thanks, Stu. I’m live at the restaurant at the corner of Seventh and Riverside where an attempted robbery was foiled by a mystery man.” Amber held her microphone out to the cashier and the scene panned out. “Can you tell us what happened here?”

“I was working my shift here at the restaurant and this dude tried robbing the place. A guy totally kicked his bleep before he could rob the rest of the customers. The mystery man’s my hero.” The cashier blew a kiss toward the camera.

The camera followed Amber as she interviewed other restaurant patrons.

“The guy performed some mad judo and wrestled the gun from the robber. That was so totally righteous!”

“I’m glad someone has the guts to stand up to these thugs. If more people acted like the mystery man, we could take this town back from the gangs.”

“I was in line to order when it happened. I was so frightened; I didn’t know what would happen. Thank God that man was there to stop the robbery.”

The camera swung its focus on Amber again. “Just some words of thanks from grateful patrons. The situation could have been worse if not for the selfless actions of a mysterious hero. For eyewitness news, I’m Amber Ambrosa. Back to you, Stu.”
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16Sunsets – Days of Joaquin

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“Gimmie all the money in the register!” The thug pointed his revolver at a convenience store clerk. The clerk punched a few keys on the cash register and the drawer popped open with an audible ding. The clerk piled the bills on the counter.

“Gimmie everything under the till.” The clerk pulled out two fifties and added them to the pile.

“Open the safe!” screamed the robber as he scooped up the bills from the counter.

“It’s on a ten minute delay timer.” The robber looked at the clerk and started walking towards the door. Still pointing the gun at the clerk, the robber went to open the door.

“Well, what have we here?”

The robber and the clerk both turned to see a man walk into the store and close the door behind him.

“A robbery?” The man turned to the robber, who alternated pointing his gun at the clerk and the new arrival. “Boy did you pick the wrong place to rob, man.”

The clerk recognized the man, and spoke out. “There’s no trouble here, Joaquin. He got what he wanted and is leaving.”

“Yeah, man. I leave and no one gets hurt,” declared the robber, pointing his gun at Joaquin.

Joaquin leaned closer to the robber and whispered. “I can’t be hurt.”

“Joaquin, let the man go. It’s only money.” The clerk came out from behind the counter to persuade Joaquin.

“I can’t do that. This store is protected by me.” He stabbed his chest with his thumb to emphasize the word me.

The robber shrugged. “Suit yourself.” He pulled the trigger and Joaquin fell against a display of snacks. The robber turned to the clerk. “Sorry, man. No witnesses.” He fired a shot at the clerk who fell backwards and hit the floor. The robber threw open the door and ran across the parking lot.

Joaquin freed himself from the salty embrace of the display and scrambled to the fallen clerk. He stepped into the rapidly expanding pool of blood, kneeling to see if his old friend was still alive. He placed his ear over his lips and heard nothing. “Shit!” he said out loud. He looked out the front door to see a gathering crowd. “Shit!” he said again. He grabbed a set of keys off the clerk’s belt and ran to the back door. Throwing the door open, he ran across an abandoned lot and into the night.
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16Sunsets – Sixteenth Sunset

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“Where’re you going?”

Kristof looked out the window to see the beginning rays of the day. “The last two weeks have been a blast, hon.”

Krystal sat up on the bed. “Kristof?”

Kristof sat at the foot of the bed. He stared at the mirror attached to her vanity. “We both knew this day was coming.”

“You look fine,” she said quietly. She crawled to the foot of the bed and hugged her husband from behind.

He patted her arms and replied. “I felt fine before my last M.R.I. scan.”

Krystal squeezed one more time and released him.

“I’m gonna take a bus.”

As Kristof walked to the bus stop, he thought about he events of the last fifteen days. He refused to listen to the nagging voice in his head. So many questions, he thought. Where had his super strength come from? Would he really die today?

The bus rumbled up to the stop, belching dark smoke. Environmentally friendly, indeed, he thought crossly. He fed two dollars into the bill collector and as soon as he stepped past the yellow line on the floor, the bus pulled away from the stop.

* * *

“Where’re you going?”

“Shut your mouth.”

“Shut my mouth? You best check yo’self before ya wreck yo’self.”

Joaquin smiled. “The nineties called, they want their sayin’ back.”

“Puh-leeze.” The woman threw back her sheet and touched Joaquin’s bare back. “Nobody calls no one no more.”

Joaquin picked up a lava lamp on the night stand, shook his head and replaced it.
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16Sunsets – Dead Coil

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Joaquin walked down a busy street. He was lost in thought about what had happened in the last two and a half weeks. He thought about Anne and Justin and their rag tag organization. He wondered how far Anne’s reach was. He passed by a bank and he overheard an angry conversation.

“Dead coil? The fuck does that mean?”

Silence as the man listened on his cell phone.

“Listen, I don’t give two fucks about your fancy accounting mumbo jumbo. Can you do it?”

More listening, then, “Hey, lemmie call you back… The sidewalk has ears.”

The man turned to Joaquin “The fuck you lookin at?”

“A dead man if you don’t show some respect.”

The man smiled. “Come ‘ere kid,” and beckoned Joaquin over.

Joaquin scoffed. “Kid? I gotta beat the respect into you?”

The man rolled his eyes and produced a knife with a long serrated blade. Pointing it at Joaquin, he said, “You might wanna re-think your options here.”

Joaquin smiled and walked up to the man until the knife tip was pressed against his chest.

“Shit, man. Youse got some stones, huh.”

Joaquin shrugged and leaned forward.

“Whoah! Shit man, I cut you, you gonna bleed all over my shoes.”

“You a member of the Sixth Street Kings?”

“What if I am?”

“I was thinking I need a few changes in my life.”

The man withdrew his knife slightly. “You think youse Kings material?”

Joaquin smiled. “You’ve got it wrong, friend. I wonder if the Kings is good enough to join me.”
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16Sunsets – Eye of the Tiger

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Peter awoke in his cabin. He preferred the desolation and the wilderness that the Yukon provided. It wasn’t just the desolation he desired, but the anonymity the vast frontier offered.

He climbed out if his bed and straightened the layers of blankets and animal furs. His fireplace was burnt down to embers, but he ignored it – today he had work to do.

Did my time, took my chances…

Peter felt the weight of the shovel across his shoulders. He squeezed the handle and felt the imperfections he knew were there. He walked the perimeter of his cabin selecting five spots with sight lines favorable for tree-line reconnaissance.

Just a man and his will to survive…

At the site of the first selection, Peter’s shovel bit into the ground. Working the frozen ground by hand would be difficult and would take most of the day. Peter devoured his task and whistled a tune he remembered from his childhood.

* * *

Peter ignored what embers remained in his fireplace, but he couldn’t ignore the messy bed. Sight one was complete. He had worked through breakfast and lunch. When his pit reached nine feet, his stomach demanded he stop for the day.

So many times it happens too fast…

Peter grabbed the shovel leaning against the railing and walked swiftly, but stiffly, to site number two. His joints creaked and complained as he turned over shovel after shovel of frozen earth. This pit would take longer than the last one, but Peter was determined to finish in time for dinner. He paused and looked over his shoulder at site one and the wooden ladder sticking out. Then he returned to digging whistling a tune popular in the 1980s.
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16Sunsets, part 15

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Peter awoke in his cabin. He preferred the desolation and the wilderness that the Yukon provided. It wasn’t just the desolation he desired, but the anonymity the vast frontier offered. He worried about the events that would transpire in the next few days. It took him two more days to finish the pits. Two days to line them with sharpened sticks. The number of sticks in each pit were a multiple of five – Peter labored to ensure this. Finally, two more days to build up the berms and set the traps. Each pit was now ten feet deep. Ten days and ten feet were just fine, because it fit in nicely with his way of doing things.

* * *

Peter awoke before he usually did. He was still covered by layers of furs and blankets, but the sun wasn’t in the right spot. Peter dressed quickly while eating a slab of wolf meat. He would need his strength for the task ahead. He piled more logs into his fireplace than he normally would and nodded to himself that his task was completed.

Peter walked onto the porch, finished eating a King Solomon Apple and grabbed a bundle of pine tree branches. He slung his shovel over his shoulder and dragged the branches behind him. He paused at the bottom of the steps and gave a silent prayer where he should’ve died six days ago. Satisfied he had properly thanked the wolf, he walked slowly towards the tree line in a zig-zag pattern doubling over his trail several times.

When he finally found his way to the tree line, he heaped snow onto the branches to disguise them from prying eyes from airplane or satellite surveillance. He climbed a tree with easy sight lines to the five hidden pit traps. The tree also gave him a good view of the canopy of the many trees that made up the forest he called home for the last thirty years.

Peter had just gotten himself into position when he saw trees rustle. I should’ve brought binoculars, he thought, cursing himself. He held his breath and stared in the direction of the rustling trees and saw them – two figures threading between the trees heading straight towards his cabin.
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