Hello Everyone! I’ve got no major news at this time, but thought I’d drop a post telling you what’s going on right now.
Two big things this month: first, I’m in a 5-book giveaway with some excellent authors, most of whom I’ve met through the convention circuit. It’s happening this week, so if any of you would like to take a chance on winning a signed Wearing the Cape #1, plus four other signed books from some very good writers in very different genres, go for it. Click on the link below the image, I’ll wait.
All done? Good. For myself, the “big thing” this month is the first convention of the season, launching in Pensacola, Florida. Pensacon is a smaller convention, but I love going back every year because they do it right and treat all of their guests like VIPs; it doesn’t matter if you’re a famous actor or a b-list author like my humble self, the people who put on the show make you feel welcome and appreciated. This year I’ll be sharing the booth with two excellent writer/artists, Richard and Wendy Pini, the creators of Elf Quest. And others, of course, but R&W are the ones I’ll be trying not to geek out over; Elf Quest appeared while I was still in high school and had a huge impact on my writerly imagination even back then.
And speaking of writing, I am making progress on Capes, enough that I thought I’d share a teaser with you.
Chapter One/Scene One
Living through the Chicago Attack destroyed his life and afterwards he wished—well, not that he hadn’t survived, but that he’d come through it with just a bullet hole or two instead of a superpower. Gunshot wounds healed, right?
His day had already been bad enough, coming to work to find the office flooded with agents wearing FBI jackets, being asked to show ID—they’d been willing to buy that he was indeed Kingston Scott Parks, college grad and new-hire at Polestar Survey Group—and relieved of his work laptop before being shown the door. He’d found himself on the corner of Jackson and Wacker when the semitrailers pulled up at the light.
Three long ones, they took up all of eastbound Jackson’s lanes when they stopped, and they didn’t move when the light changed. Instead, Kingston heard the clang of metal doors opening. Trying to make sense out of that, deciding whether to cross or not, he heard the first stuttering pops of gunfire. Pop-pop-pop.
Kingston hadn’t always lived in the better parts of Chicago and knew the sound well even if it was wrong—too fast and too loud even accounting for echo off the buildings around them—and he ducked before thinking about it. The pedestrian-safety bollard posts on the curb and the heavy City Sanitation trashcan gave him cover as he twisted to figure out where the shots were coming from. When a business-suited guy to his right yelled and pointed, he risked bobbing up.
Soldiers filled the spaces between the semis, freaky soldiers with green and gangrenous skin, popping off random shots with the rifles in their hands—the ripping too-loud-to-be-pistol-shots he’d heard.
Shitshitshitshitshit! Clutching his slack messenger bag, he gathered himself to follow the now-running guy in a bolt up Wacker—until the man dropped in a staccato of gunfire and burst of red. Shit! He tried to become one with the sidewalk.
Above his head the cascade of stuttering fire shattered windows up and down from the intersection, and he was trapped. The bollards, trashcan, and intersection traffic-light pole gave him line-of-sight cover, but rising dread froze his thoughts with the thud of advancing boots under the shots and screams. The cover wouldn’t last; nothing between him and the green soldiers was more than waist high and all around was open ground.
Kingston forced his eyes away from the still body on the sidewalk. Glass fell like rain, but there were no sharp snaps of bullets hitting steel bollards; they weren’t shooting at him. Yet. Okay, so where could he go?
The park across the street was no cover, even assuming he could make it across. Scramble down Jackson? The bollards stretched down the street and they’d give some cover—but that way lay a lot of the shattering windows and that was the way they were pointed.
Up Wacker, then. Kingston’s eyes fixed on a heavy curbside trash hauler maybe ninety feet up the road, the kind of construction garbage hauler companies dropped at sites and then picked up and carted away when full. Behind that . . . he could think about that when he got there.
And he wasn’t going to get there—business-suit guy had tried that and now there was no time, the shots were getting closer.
He was going to die.
Be the wind. First rule of surviving a villain attack—and if ranked green soldiers didn’t just scream supervillain nothing did—was run. If you weren’t already a target, keeping low and running like hell out of the zone tripled your odds of survival. Fist clenched around his bag strap, he breathed in, out, in, heart racing as he focused like a laser on the steel safe haven just up the street. His vision greyed and narrowed as he gathered himself and lunged from cover—
And crashed off the side of the trash carrier at an angle.
His head rang from the impact and his knees felt their meeting with the sidewalk, but he wasn’t lying beside the suit. Rolling to his feet he ducked instinctively as bullets thwacked off the steel barrier between him and death, scrambling again. Ducking around to the other side of the carrier, he took off running.
Halfway to Adams Street some kind of firebomb went off overhead and Kingston’s world went weird again, smacking him into the back of a car half onto the sidewalk ahead of him. Around him, commuters abandoned their cars to run.
Where are the capes?
A bloorpy explosion as he scrambled up made him turn to watch an eruption of pink foam fill half the intersection behind him, trapping green shooters in it as it fast-set. A red blur stopped beside him and Rush helped him to his feet. “Get to Adams and then head for the lake!” the speedster said before blurring away again. Staggering, Kingston made it to the corner where cars on the westbound street had stopped and more drivers were exiting their cars and running east. Why hadn’t they just kept going?
An explosion west across the river told him why and he ran. He could run faster than most of the out-of-shape morning commuters, especially since every few steps his world blinked and he found himself yards ahead as he covered the blocks between him and Michigan Avenue and the parks. Twice uneven ground at the end of a blink sent him sprawling on concrete but he rolled to his feet and kept running. In front of the Art Institute, lungs burning, heart bursting in his chest, he stopped and dithered.
South was Jackson and marching green soldiers. North took him to Monroe where he crossed the tracks and finally slowed down.
And had time for any thought but running.
Shit. His cell wouldn’t make connection—just sat in his hand with September’s name over the red receiver icon as dots marched across the bottom. Staring back at the smoke rising over the towers of the Loop he tried to remember his roomy and best mate’s schedule was. She had a morning appointment. Where? Where where where? Distant shots and electric discharge had him moving on again, too blown to even jog, and then something made him look up.
High above the Dome south of him the next generation of Sentinels, Astra and her squad and a big-ass dragon, were descending over the park, peeling away to dive into the Loop.
Yay, freaking cavalry’s here.
He was a Chi-Towner—he knew the drill; get out of the way while the capes fight the villains or whatever freaky shit some villain’s unleashed, wait for the public alert announcing the All Clear before going back. But was September somewhere in the Loop? If she was anywhere close to the action, he could expect her to head right for it, camera ready. Maybe I can— I— What did I do?
What he’d just done hit Kingston like a ton of bricks. The air left his lungs, not a good idea considering how out of breath he already was, and he had to bend and grab his stinging aching knees for balance as the world turned fuzzy. Straightening, he was half-surprised to find himself in the same spot.
Because he’d . . . blinked and the world moved. Repeatedly. He was alive, and yeah he felt like he’d taken a beating but that was from the concrete, meeting it repeatedly. And the steel side of a trash carrier. And the back of a car. He wasn’t lying on a sidewalk bleeding out because he’d . . .
I teleported. Jumped. That’s what they call it, right?
But that was a breakthrough thing, a superhuman thing, and he wasn’t—
You weren’t, his inner fact-checker snarked. But who is until they are?
Kingston’s a different kind of hero from my usual; he’s much more Everyman than Hope or Jacky, and he’s not going to hear a clarion call to wear the cape just because he had a breakthrough–he’s never even punched someone in anger before (well, not since fifth grade). He’s no hero, and the only thing that can induce him to wear an identity-concealing mask and adopt a codename is a paycheck. Fighting? Are you kidding? His power is most useful for bugging out. And no, he’s not going to have any kind of Peter Parker moment that changes all that.
This is going to be fun.
Take care, everyone.