Cover Reveal for Avenging Angel

Here it is! The full print version of Avenging Angel by artist M Joseph Murphy. I think it’s perfect. Both are perfect. The book will be available on both Amazon.com and Kindle.com in the coming month. There’s also a possibility it will be available on iTunes in the iBooks Store as well.

Avenging Angel - Full Cover more pop3

This is the ebook cover.            Avenging Angel - Ebook only - more pop1

Avenging Angel

It’s been far too long since I updated this but I’ve been busy with my latest novel, Avenging Angel. This is a love story with a detective angle set in Miami.

She lost her husband in a botched robbery. He’s a homicide cop investigation a string of murders throughout the city. They will cross paths in the most unusual way and together they must find the killer or killers before they end up on a cold, steel table, like the bodies that keep turning up.

Is she the Avenging Angel? Is he? Neither or both?

The book will be available by the end of the year on both Amazon and Kindle. Look for it!

I’ll have a cover preview in a few days too.

This Is The End – A story about what could happen in a world ruled by apathy

This is The End

By

Ross G. Homer

 

 

The End was an insane time.

Our elaborate plans crashed and burned back then. Gone up in flames. Too many people didn’t care; didn’t think voting was worth the time. Money and greed ran everything, the entire world. We were at war with an advancing world, we were at war with ourselves.

Cops killed with both impunity and immunity. People killed with impunity, anyway. Where a robber who used to rob gas stations and liquor stores would take the money and run, now they killed everyone in the store, then took the money and ran.

Adults abused and murdered children. Children murdered their parents. Neighbors, friends for years, hated each other and frequently killed each other.

Families were ripped apart because of differing views of politics. Education was killed for ‘cost savings,’ breeding a full generation of ignorant young people who, of course, didn’t care. Most, if not all, social programs were killed, despite promises to those already on certain programs that it wouldn’t affect them.

If you couldn’t afford medical care, you died. Entire neighborhoods were razed because it was cheaper than burying the dead. Sometimes, those who still lived in those neighborhoods were killed by the military or police for expediency.

Because of cuts, entire cities burned, not just in the ghettos and barrios, but the high rises and the upper middle class neighborhoods as well. Fire departments were cut to the bone. Many fire fighters fled from the conflagrations they faced allowing the fires to spread. Fire didn’t care if you were a homeless veteran or a billionaire living on top of the hills. All burned equally.

Should you be brave enough to actually call the police for something, you waited hours for one to show, if at all. Same with an ambulance. You didn’t have some kind of medical coverage to pay for the ambulance? You were left to do whatever you could afford, creating the vicious circle that caused the neighborhoods to burn.

Helping the poor went the way of the wooden clog. People were too busy just trying to survive. Many cities looked like those of third world countries where the dead, at times, littered the streets. Nowhere to put the bodies; crematories were over-burdened.

Diseases, of course ran over everything. Childhood diseases killed then, like the cops; with impunity. Flu became epidemic in proportions never seen since the Dark Ages when smallpox destroyed vast areas of mankind. It, too, reared its ugly head, adding millions to the already rising death toll.

Infrastructure collapses killed commerce and shipping. With no way to get products to what was a rapidly failing market, only those with money got fresh, edible foods. However, it was quickly discovered that those who did the actual work of farming were the very people to whom services were slashed. No one could physically do the farming if they were dying or being cared for by others. Starvation ravaged an already ravaged land.

Men and women who maintained the infrastructures, the vehicles, airplanes and ships fell like those farming. Consequently, that part of the infrastructure collapse then blocked access to the many areas that were needed for simple food production. When those in control realized something had to be done, The End was coming like a runaway freight train. That, too, had happened as railroads fell into disrepair. Airports runways were in such poor condition that larger aircraft could no longer land, making medical support dismal to impossible at best.

Those who were extremely lucky and far-sighted enough, fled the dying country before the borders were closed. They left everything except their desire to be free.

After the borders were sealed, people caught trying to flee were summarily executed on the spot along with their entire families, their bodies dumped on the roadsides.

Those naysayers who said ‘Good, it’s about time those progressives were put in their places,’ found out that they, too, were just as wrong as those in power. Those who said it’s my right to own guns, for instance.

That worked just fine until fifteen armed soldiers marched up to your house and demanded your guns. Those who refused were either executed along with their families or, more often, a loved one was dragged into the street and shot. Worse, raped and then shot.

It took no time at all before private guns were in the hands of the government that was elected because voters didn’t think it mattered.

Yes, The End was an insane time.

We fled just before the shithouse went up in flames. We were lucky to get there because our place of refuge was soon faced with a flood of others. Finally, this government was forced to take drastic measures and for months bodies washed up on shore.

Those left behind, those who didn’t die when it all ended, were stuck facing a slow, lingering death due to greed which led to starvation. Sanitation was flushed down the toilet along with safe drinking water.

Turned out that the ultra-rich, the very men and women who caused it all, were no luckier. When they fled to other places to get away from the country their greed devastated, they were instantly imprisoned, or, in some of the less tolerant locales, stood against the back wall of a hangar and executed for crimes against humanity.

Because, as went the our late country, so went much of the rest of the world. Countries where the governments were known for their socially advanced, more liberal views, were forced to become just as evil when it came to dealing with the inundation of immigrants.

There was no profit taking from this despite those who tried.

Now it was simple survival for everyone.

All the elaborate plans of humanity died along with billions of humans who’s only real goal in life was to get from cradle to grave as easily as possible. Sciences died as superstitions arose, more powerful than before.

Religious extremists, already powerful before The End, became even more so. More millions died.

Many of us watching in horror wondered if the world would finally be returned to the oldest surviving creatures: sharks and cockroaches.

Our little island nation became the sanctuary for the sciences. People continued to believe in some unknown, invisible, all-powerful being, but they eventually moved away from that as it became obvious, even to the pulpit-pounders, that the Universe didn’t give one whit about the foibles of humanity; those insane little creatures who inhabited that little blue marble out there in a negligible solar system floating in a small, out-of-the way galaxy.

Us.

I thought about this as I looked at the bodies of both our grandparents and parents in their rooms. They’d self-terminated because, in spite of the fact that our little nation appeared to be doing well, the population continued to plummet.

My wife and three children lay in our bed, all gone. Helium. I went in and contemplated the little bottle next to her and the face mask I was to take off her face and use. My turn was coming as soon as I decided when it was the time to start the fire.

Yes, despite having a chance, a very slim chance, that humanity would recover at some point, it wasn’t looking good.

Our old country was a wasteland. The satellite count two months ago showed roughly a hundred thousand people. The one just three days ago showed there were less. The rest of the world was not much better off. Humanity was reduced to not enough people to sustain a population.

What was killing us? There were no diseases now; they’d run their courses. No wars; no one to fight them or manufacture weapons for war. There was now plenty of food. I looked out my windows to our lush garden. Over to the left were a half-dozen chickens. Behind them was the pig sty with three sows and a boar. We had eight goats wandering somewhere. I didn’t much care.

And there it was.

No one cared.

There was no hope anymore.

As I picked up the face mask and made sure of the connection to the bottle I recalled every ‘end-of-the-world’ book or movie I’d seen. I was amazed to find that I may well have been one of the last humans alive on the little blue marble.

I set fire to the fuse that would ignite a pail of turpentine, then lay down beside my wife’s cooling body.

This is the end, beautiful friend, the end.

 

Updated! Mumans – A Tale From the Belt

I am writing a book called Becca. When I started it I didn’t realize until I was well into it that this short story, Mumans,  was actually a prequel. Who knows? Maybe my mind did. I update the story a little to change a few times and places. It also has a new ending.

 

 

Mumans

 

A Tale From the Belt©

 

By

 

Ross G. Homer


 

Mumans

By

Ross G. Homer

 

We asteroid miners can get pretty lonely out there in the Belt. Even with today’s new warp speeds, it can take upwards to three months, Earth time, to get here. Depending on where in the Earth’s orbit we are when we go ‘up’, it could take considerably longer. That’s a long time for no companion for certain urges, if you get my meanin’. Flyin’ solo tends to get old. Once we’re on site, we’re usually too busy or too tired for much else.

Littleton Corporation, ‘You Get A Lot From a Littleton’©, developed the living, or rather, dish-created, memory for quantum computers totally by accident, or so I hear. It was a huge leap from well, for want of a better term, cyborgs. Cybernetic organisms.

These were Mumans. Manufactured Humans.

These creations are, for all intents and purposes, as human looking as you or I. Except they aren’t. They are grown. In an incubator. Depending on your disposable income you can order up any kind of model you want: male, female, neither, both, other; white, black, purple with green dots or any combination to suit your whims; as many legs and arms that are needed for your particular application; height, weight and intelligence, or lack thereof. There are an almost limitless number of combinations available. Except for the expense, they are as expendable as toilet paper and are used mostly for the VDJs…very dangerous jobs. The Belt is littered with in-op, ruined or wasted mumans. I usually have several in different configurations.

Most of us also have at least one Companion Model. Some prefer male, others female. And some, well we won’t talk about them. Suffice it to say that those sorts have been out there a long, long time and tended to be a bit goofy. I don’t drink with’em on Io. Hell, I avoid them on Earth. Scary, scarred and most with very nasty temperaments.

My name is Davis. Just Davis. My great-grand-something was a well-known writer back in the 21st century and I got hung with his whole name. I dropped most of it and became just Davis. It works for me. You don’t like it? Well, if you don’t, that’s your problem, not mine.

I had already done three, solo, two-year trips out to the asteroid belt at Jupiter and decided enough’s enough. The four Littleton muman worker drones I have are not designed to be companions and they follow only very simple orders. I’ve seen smarter flies. They’re not much better than ‘bots, just more nimble.

But I digress. I decided it was time and I had to have a Companion. Like I said, six total years is a long time and the short periods on Earth netted me a couple of nasty STD’s.

On the third trip out, I scored an almost pure titanium rock, three hundred yards long by two hundred wide. Trust me; it was an excellent find and provided me with much needed income to improve my ship, updates to my apartment in London and finally, order me a Companion.

Now normally a guy can go totally crazy when it comes to creating the perfect Companion and some have. There’s couple of guys I know who were terribly sorry after one trip with their creations.

Not me. Nope. I was gonna do it right. First, my muman had to be female with all the correct female parts, nothing weird or off-the-wall. Just a standard female with a female anatomy. 

I sat there on the one hundred and ninth floor in the Nuevo Seattle office of Littleton Corp and stared down at the holopad in my hands. The choices were almost overwhelming. I touched the image on the pad and it floated full-size in front of me. I went through page after page of already prepared models. Again, the choices were almost overwhelming.

Well Davis, I thought. Y’gotta start somewhere. Let’s see now…five-foot eight, don’t like’em too short, check; nicely tanned to hopefully disguise the dark blue it had to be by law, check; curvy, well-shaped, check; auburn hair, check; dark green eyes, check; sort of oval face, yeah, I like that one. Check. Five fingers and toes, check.

The receptionist took my order. It was female and was obviously muman as it had four arms, all doing something different at the same time. I am the Perfect Receptionist Model, the small placard on its desk read. Perfect for multi-tasking or navigation.

It said, “Mr. Davis, luckily for you, we have this particular basic female model almost ready. All we need to do is make your requested mods. That will shorten your wait time considerably. In fact, sir, she will have the nextgen intelligence unit we’re beta testing. If you accept, we’ll knock off twenty-five percent if you’re willing to apprise us monthly on how she does in the field.”

I said, “Absolutely! Anything to save a few creds.”

“Thank you sir. We’ll debit your account two hundred and thirty-six thousand creds. Sign here.” One of its arms passed another pad to me and I scribbled my name on it with my finger. I heard that people once used actual writing instruments. Must have been strange back them to carry extra things like that around.

“Thank you again, Mr. Davis. Your Female Companion Beta v1 will be ready in about ten days. We’ll text you to come pick her up. Is there anything else I can do for you?”

I shook my head, smiled, and almost danced as I walked out the door. I saved a bundle on this thing! Great!

The next ten days was spent overseeing the much needed upgrades to my ship, Truth Seeker. New NJ drives that’ll cut my travel time by almost two months plus major light speed improvements should I want to go over to, say Andromeda, for the weekend. More powerful cutting lasers; deeper hold for ore, stronger tractor beams for the big stuff the hold can’t handle.

I had my apartments remodeled and I even splurged and bought a hot, screaming red Mercedes SportFloat. London to New York in just under an hour. Can’t beat it.

Received 1306: Mr. Davis, your Companion is ready. Anytime this afternoon.

Hot damn!

I jumped into my Floater and shot over to Seattle from London in just over an hour and a half. Landed on the rooftop platform at Littleton and took the gravlift down to 109.

The same receptionist was there. “Good afternoon, Mr. Davis. If you’ll just have a seat, I’ll have your companion brought up.” Smiling like a school kid, I sat on one of the leather couches and picked up a holopad and swiped through the different offered news feeds. Mars Gazette? Nah. New Singapore Times…nope. Luna City Star? Not interested and besides, I was there for that bit of bother.

I was too excited to simply sit. I stood and walked over to the floor to ceiling window and looked out over toward the Old Seattle crater. It was in the process of being excavated to create a new canal to Lake Washington or what the locals are calling the New Lake.  I may have to get me a condo here as well. I like Seattle, always have. That new lake will be great for sailing. What is it? Six, eight miles across?

I heard another door open and turned and there it was; my personal Companion and what a beauty it was. She was nude and perfect, even to the perfectly designed hair at the juncture of her perfect thighs. I done well, I thought, mentally patting myself on the back. It was even better than what I designed; the sum far greater than the parts.

It walked over to me and stopped two feet away. In a sexy, husky voice, it said, “Good afternoon, Mr. Davis. How may I please you?”

Well, the expression ‘struck dumb’ hit home because all I could do was gape, mouth hanging open and all. My drones didn’t speak at all and this one was something outside my realm of expertise.

It continued. “I can learn whatever you wish to teach me. At the moment I have a rudimentary command of intra-solar system navigation, cooking, homemaking and sexual activities. I speak eighteen basic languages. I can list them if you wish.” I shook my head ‘no.’ English, German, and Tagalog were all I needed. A little Swahili once in awhile, depending on what bar I was in on Ganymede or Io.

I told it I didn’t need it to speak any more than those four at any one time. If I needed more, I’d give it learning cubes. I walked around it, checking out its shape and color. It’s ass was, in a word, dynamite. It was, according to the card it handed me, 38-26-37, 5’8”, 160 pounds.

Returning to the front of it, I asked, “Uhh, listen. Have you been named?”

It replied, “No, Mr. Davis. That is your privilege.”

I thought about it a moment. Today was Sunday. Why not? “So…your name is Sunday. Is that okay with you?”

“I have not yet been taught negative replies sir. Sunday is my name. Thank you.” It had been given enormous dark green eyes under perfect brows. Its nose, mouth, and chin were in perfect thirds. Its hair was deep auburn hair was cut very short, close to its scalp.

They had given it a slim neck, perfectly shaped large breasts, narrow hips and a perfect ass. Its legs were long, and well-shaped and it had beautiful hands with long fingers.

I had to swallow hard. The receptionist interrupted my gaping. “Mr. Davis, I need to mention we had a small breakthrough two days after your order. Sunday has a newer intelligence module that is considerably faster and able to learn more. We’ve even included our new emotions mod as well. We try to make each of our modifications as human as possible. All this is, of course, beta. The same discount applies as well.”

I turned to Sunday. “So you can feel emotion?”

It nodded. “Yes, I can. I can feel elation, pain, happiness, sadness. Other, more shaded emotions will come with practice and learning.”

“Okay then. We need to get you a wardrobe.” I turned to the receptionist. “Does it have something here it can wear? I’d hate to parade it out on the street. Muman or not, people will stare.”

“Yessir. We provide a basic tunic, shoes and sunshades all at no extra cost. May I recommend the NordRei store just down on the next block? Many of our clients take their Companions there for outfitting. As with this model, you will receive a discount for its outfits.”

“Great. I’ll take it there.” A moment later a human, or so it appeared, brought out said items. Sunday carefully pulled on the tunic, buttoned it and then slid into low clogs. It then put on sunshades.

“Mr. Davis, I am ready.” It stood waiting, arms hanging inexpressively down its sides.

The trip to the NordRei store was moderately expensive although the discounts they gave for clients of Littleton was substantial. I kept looking at my chrono as I wanted to sample Sunday’s assets, one of which was sex. On this trip in from the Belt I’d stayed celibate for this very reason. No use bringing some damn disease to my new muman. Medicine’s expensive out there.

Back in London, Sunday fixed us a light dinner that was better than anything I could have bought at any of the fine restaurants there. Then the sex. As this is not a pornographic account of the occurrences that followed, I’ll leave out the details. Suffice it to say, Sunday was very passionate albeit, like it said, with only basic knowledge.

We were going to have several months to improve on that. I also discovered they’d given it the capacity for orgasms as well. Nothing like feedback to help a guy’s performance.


Chapter 2

 

My personal home-asteroid, Thalia, appeared in the port. I had named it after the muse of Comedy because the bitch had tried to kill me more than once while I was attempting to make it habitable. Came frighteningly close more than once. I remember becoming hysterical a time or two because of it. Funny, right?

“Sunday, there is our new home. We’ll land there and resupply the dome. We’ll be there another four days then it’s off for prospecting. We can check out your navigation abilities as well. I trust you have been studying?”

“Yes, Davis, as you requested.” There was some odd…vague something…pique?…in her voice. I shrugged it off.

As a learning machine, Sunday was awesome. Its mind was like that of a dry sponge in water. I couldn’t keep up with the knowledge it absorbed.

I discovered something else: Damned if I wasn’t falling for it. Get ahold of yourself Davis! I thought. It’s a damn machine that’s almost human. No mommy or daddy other than some strange chemical combinations. Hell, it’s not much more than an animated sex doll I read about in ancient history.

But the more hours I spent with it, the more enthralled I became. Could it be her child-like fascination with all things new? Its capacity to learn? Her ability to navigate these narrow pathways around billion-ton asteroids and make faster than split second decisions? Her amazing ability and capacity for sex? And its cooking. Unbelievable!

When it was away, performing some duty on the ship or inside the dome, I missed her although it was never more than a couple’a hundred feet from me.

Then came the night at a restaurant on Ganymede. We had spent six months out in the Belt prospecting for the ‘next big thing’. We found a rock of great interest and no doubt huge credits and were going to celebrate on Ganymede.

Now this restaurant was “supposed” to be a better place to eat and drink. However, it still catered to a crowd of men and women who were miners first and civilized second. Or possibly third, fourth or fifth.

Sunday and I entered and took a table under the skylight presently lit by Jupiter. The view was stunning, as usual. It was unusually quiet that night and for that I was thankful as something was bothering me, something I couldn’t quite put a finger on.

This was its first time in public since Earth and I didn’t know how others would react to the fact that I, tough-guy Davis, had a muman Companion.

It wasn’t long before I found out.

Big Tim O’Bannon came in with several of his crew. They had already been drinking heavily and, from the looks of things, into the designers as well. They were loud, boisterous, and clumsy. Big Tim spied me and staggered over to our table.

He plopped into an empty seat across from Sunday. “Say there Davy-boy, I heard tell y’gotta new fuck toy. Nice.”

I glared across at him. I didn’t need this tonight. “Tim, what I have is my business. Why don’t you join your crew?” Something in the tone of his voice told me he was taking no prisoners this night. In the past I’d had to mop the floor with him and it looked like tonight may well be another.

“C’mon, Davy-boy, we ain’t chatted in what? A year? Here. Let me buy you an’ th’ toy a drink.” He eyed Sunday while waiting at the waiter. “Yeah, y’got a nice’un. You interested in sharing? My last toy got radiation burnt and I had to dump it. Been almost a year.”

Dump a Companion? Was he insane? Looking at Big Tim’s badly scarred face and hands, I’d say he probably was. I hated to ask, but I did anyway.

“Was she dead first?”

“What? Fuck no Davy-boy. Din’ want to waste an energy beam on something like that. Nahhh, I shoved it into the lock and cycled it out. Interesting,” he looked at his black and grimy nails, “it exploded just like a human.”

Sweet Buddha! I wouldn’t do that to a rabid dog.

“So, Davy-boy, sharing? I could sure use me a piece’a that.” He nodded at Sunday who was now decidedly uneasy. I had never mentioned sharing with her. It was something miners occasionally did, male and female. She was exclusively mine. I mean, I bought and paid for it, didn’t I?

Sunday turned to me and whispered, “I don’t like that man. Can we leave?”

Nobody in the known Universe could have been as surprised as I at that moment. Sunday actually made a negative statement and as far as I could remember, I’d not changed that programming. If I said, ‘screw him,’ her job was to do precisely that, no questions asked.

Feeling oddly other worldly, I nodded at her. “Sorry Tim, but we’re dining alone tonight. Like I said, why don’t you go join your crew?”

“Oh, c’mon buddy. I’d’a let you fuck my companion, if I had one. Offered it once, in case you forgot.” Yeah, I remembered alright. She looked completely cowed and would have done absolutely anything he wanted. And did, from some of the disgusting rumors I heard. Her bruises when I had seen her proved that. She was probably better off dead, no matter how horrible her death had been. At least it had been as close to instant as possible.

“No Tim.” I bit it off.

“Well now look. Ain’t no need to get all shitty and stuff. Lemme just take it upstairs and have a quickie. I promise it won’t get hurt much.”

And that was the exact moment I realized, with thundering realization, I was in love with Sunday! My head whipped around and stared at her. She was already staring at me.

“Beat it Tim.” There was no doubt in my voice that I meant it.

“Hey, Davy-boy, you ain’t getting’ rid’a me that easy.” He staggered to his feet and started around the table.

“Sir?” Sunday asked quietly, “Davis asked you to leave. I would suggest you do his bidding.”

Tim stared at her. “Did I just hear you tell me to leave? A muman Companion?” He doubled up his huge, work-scarred fist. As he started to take a swing at her, Sunday rose gracefully, spun on her left leg and nailed Big Tim under the jaw with her right foot. It was so quick I would have missed it had I blinked.

Tim’s head whipped back followed by the rest of his massive body. He crashed into the table behind us, upsetting two female miners to no end.

I raised my hands. “Sorry Wanda, Tina. He’ll pay for your meals. Just help yourself to his wallet.” I stared at Sunday who quietly returned to her seat. Wanda, the larger of the two rolled the unconscious Big Tim over and fingered out his wallet. Fortunately for Wanda and her partner, unfortunately for Tim, they found a nice fat wad of credits and his bank card. Idiot hadn’t gone to the bank with his receipts yet.

Tina smiled, kissed Wanda and then me. They entered the bar hand in hand. Before all hell broke loose, I heard Wanda call out, “Boys, drinks all around and keep’em coming. Big Tim’s payin’ tonight!” And like I said, all hell broke loose.

I sat and stared at Sunday, appetite gone. Now I knew exactly what had been floating around in the back of my mind.

I was in love with a machine.

It was if she could read my mind. “Davis, let’s return to the dome. I think we need to talk.”

As if in a dream, we left the restaurant hand in hand and took my shuttle back to Thalia. In fact, I was so distracted she flew. Flawlessly as ever. Neither of us spoke as the quiet Mozart concertos floated around us during our four hour trip back. Originally I had planned to spend the night in one of the lowgrav rooms at the Ganymede Marriott.

Inside the dome. My home away from home. I had done it up in four sections; living area, cooking area, bathing and sleeping. All spaces were quite large but as oxygen was no problem, they could be.

Sunday spoke first.

“Davis, you know that I feel. As I said in Seattle, I feel pain, elation, happiness, sadness. I get lonely when you’re gone as, I know, you do when I’m away from you. I was given that module, the emotions one. I am so much like you. You have taught me many, many things some good, some, well, naughty. You let me drive your ship which, I’m told, is very rare indeed for Companions.” She paused, went into the kitchen and fetched a couple of beers.

Handing me one, she continued. “Except for the possibility of off-spring, I’m as human as you.” I started to protest.

“No,” she said, “I am. I may be an amalgam of properly combined chemicals but…aren’t you? Just because your chemical content was mixed in one egg and sperm makes it no different. I am no different than humans created in petri dishes. The biggest difference, as you’ve seen, is that I have to be dark blue. Thank you, by the way, for ordering a good cover color.”

Sunday sipped her beer. “Cut me and I bleed. I can bruise as I no doubt will after kicking Big Tim’s hard jaw.” She smiled at that. “I am ticklish on my feet but then, you know that.”

I finally had a chance to speak. “Where did you learn that move?”

“Watch time is tedious and boring. While you slept I used the cubes to learn all sorts of things. I know a number of personal protection art forms and practiced for hours when you slept. I know four hundred and seventy-three ways to pleasure you and that many to pleasure myself. I know how to prepare just about any food you can imagine.” She drained her bottle. Pleasure herself? Mumans masturbate? This was getting stranger and stranger.

“I can completely tear down and rebuild the drives on your ship as well as the shuttle. In fact, I know how to improve them far beyond design limits without blowing us up. I’ll do that next time we’re on Earth.

“But with all that, Davis, I’m human. The woman at Littleton is human as well in spite of her four arms.”

Now I’m not the least bit religious but… “How about a soul? You have one of those?”

Laughing, Sunday asked, “Why not? It’s the same with the chemicals that made you and I. I’ve studied all your religions. Talk about lunacy! It’s surprising humans made it this far. But yes, I feel that I have a soul just as you do. I am self-aware. Davis, I know there’s something greater than us out there.” She made a sweeping motion towards the top of the dome with her hand. “That may be because life in this tiny solar system on the fringes of a small galaxy can’t be all there is. Numerically it’s impossible.

“And, Davis, I knew how you felt about me the moment you stopped calling me ‘it’ and started referring to me with female pronouns.” She sat beside me and took my hands. “I have loved you almost from the start and I knew it was only a matter of time before you saw through your prejudices and found it in your heart to love me as well.” Tears crept down her cheeks.

I didn’t quite know what to say. Prejudices? Yes, I had ‘em. I mean…she’s a machine and all. She caught me flat footed.

Wiping her eyes, she said, “As for a machine. Please Davis,” Then sarcastically, “Do I look like a machine? Really?” She stood and stripped. “Does any of this look or feel manmade? My skin is the same as yours. My bones are mostly calcium, just like yours. My brain is exactly like yours, uhh, well, it’s considerably better, actually.” She pinched her left forearm, hard! Blood welled up from the cuts her nails made in her skin. “See? Red blood, A-negative in fact. Damn that hurts!”

“Muldoon! Don’t do that Sunday! Here, let me bandage that.” I jumped up a grabbed an ever present first aid kit. Quickly I cleaned and put a small bandage on the cuts. “Jeeze, Sunday, I believe you!” I closed the box and returned to my beer. It was empty. Before I could turn to get another, she already took two out of the chiller.

“I know my duties, Davis. Here.” She handed me one.

I sipped and looked at the incredible woman, yes, woman not machine, standing in front of me. She quickly redressed and sat back on the couch.

“Okay, Sunday, I guess we’re a couple.” I put down my beer and took her hands. “Where do we go from here?”

Smiling mischievously, she replied, “How about I show you number two hundred a four?”

 

Days drifted into weeks and into months. Big Tim finally screwed up and slammed his old ship into an asteroid harder than he was. He and his crew of six perished in a silent flash. Sunday and I claimed that rock from earlier and pulled it Earthward. I was already well-off. This thing was going to put me, us, over the top.

Out here in the Belt, everyone pretty much accepted everyone as equals, human and muman as well. We’re all in this together and if one of us screws up, all pay equally. Usually with their lives.

Not so on Earth.

Sunday and I had been out over a year when we returned to Earth.

We spent a wonderful week in my flat in London before returning to Seattle for her annual evaluation. Instead of taking my Mercedes, we opted for the newly reopened TransCon rail.

This thing was really a site to behold. It ran on maglev propulsion through a transparent buckyball tube of clear carbon fibers. From London to New York, three hundred feet below the Atlantic in just a bit over four hours. Rising back to the surface, it ran to the West Coast, branching at the huge station in St. Louis. It was a most excellent experience.

In Seattle, the rain came down hard. It had been raining for most of a month as good old planet Earth was trying desperately to recover from the atmospheric damage done to her over the centuries and the collisions with Chicx II. Then, a few decades ago, true cold fusion power was finally developed. Right on its heels came the development of room temperature superconductors. Free or almost free and limitless energy was now available and Earth no longer required fossil fuels for transportation or commerce.

There was a different receptionist today at Littleton. This person was male, had six arms and no smile. Apparently there was a new law that, in addition to making all mumans dark blue to distinguish them from humans they now had to have a variety of different brightly colored markings. One of the more right-wing religious parties forced it on the government so owners of mumans were having to come in and getting the color update.

Sunday with yellow stripes? I thought. Interesting but only if I, or rather we, have to.

The receptionist said, “I’m sorry Mr. Davis, but it’s now the law. It’ll be dyed…” I raised my hand to stop him.

“I’m sorry, but Sunday is a she, not an it. Is that clear?”

“My pardon Mr. Davis. Sunday will have to be dyed with the extra markings which will be accomplished while our techs are evaluating her programming. I can make you an appointment now, if you’d like. I apologize but we’ve been slammed with customers. Will tomorrow at 1300 work for you?”

I thought about it for a moment. “Sure. Sunday hasn’t seen the new channel to New Lake. Tomorrow it is.”

He held up a hand to stop us. “Mr. Davis, I must warn you that there are now Humanist thugs out there who won’t like the fact that your Sunday is muman. Please be careful. None of the receptionist models can leave the building now. Forty-two was on her way home when she was killed last month.”

“Thanks. We’ll be careful.”

Down the street from the Littleton building was a light commuter maglev station. As we walked to the station we passed a strip club I’d been in several times over the years, Club Seattle. Strip clubs didn’t get much nicer than this one and the dancers did not hustle drinks.

At the station we boarded the next train bound for the New Lake district which is what Lake Washington had been renamed after the meteor strike. I hadn’t noticed the group of young people; four young men and two women, who boarded with us. Sunday did.

When we reached the lake, we left the train and made our way to one of the many cozy and intimate café’s that dotted the north shore.

Sunday said, “There’s a nice looking place. Shall we go in?”

“Sure. They’ve got an awning so let’s sit out here.” Sunday nodded agreeably and we found a table next to the street. I pointed to the newly rebuilt building where I was planning on buying a condo in the coming days.

The group of six sat a couple of tables over. It didn’t take long before their conversation got loud enough for me to hear. I didn’t know that, along with all Sunday’s other attributes she had enhanced hearing. She had been listening to them since before we left the train.

It was the usual shit: “Mumans ain’t human. They steal jobs from us working people. They eat babies. They oughta be banned! We ought ’t kill every damn one of’em. Littleton should be burned to the ground.” That sort of crap. And that’s what I could hear. God only knows what she heard.

I wanted to say something but Sunday reached over and lightly touched my hand. Leaning forward she said quietly, “There’s six of them, Davis. You might be able to stop a couple and me a couple but they’d certainly draw a crowd of like thinkers and we’d never stand a chance. Please. Just sit. We can finish our drinks and leave. I’d rather go back to our hotel anyway.”

Ever the smart one, I had to agree with her although hearing them rankled to no end.

We finished our beers, tossed twenty creds on the table and went quickly back to the maglev stop. The group followed. Now, however, they weren’t being the least bit circumspect with their comments and people were watching.

The maglev was coming but it seemed to be dragging. I didn’t like the sound of the six clowns and now they had managed to draw in a larger group of idiots. For the first time in a very long time, I was worried about my skin.

One of the boys, a huge lad in his early twenties stepped forward. “So. This your muman bitch?” He reached out and shoved her.

Sunday staggered and recovered by made no move. “Don’t do that, asshole!” I said. “Leave her and us alone. We haven’t done you any harm.”

“Bullshit, dude. It and mumans like it have stolen jobs from us what needs’em.”

“No, she hasn’t. She’s been out in the Belt with me.” The kid loomed in a little closer. I got ready to slug the shit.

“Yeah? That’s a job one’a us coulda had. Right guys?” There were nods and agreements all around.

“If what you says is so, why aren’t there more humans out there? Because it’s fuckin’ hard goddamn work. That’s why. You kids want the top without the stops along the way. That’s why they are out there and you’re not. Now shove off and let us be. Our train’s just about here.” The kid shoved Sunday again and again she staggered.

Except this time, one of his buddies stuck out a foot and tripped her.

Sunday’s hand tore for mine. I barely touched her before fell in front of the train.

She had no chance.

The crowd dispersed quickly, leaving me with a bloody tangled body. No cops came because mumans aren’t human. I looked at the mess that had been Sunday, the late muman and shrugged my shoulders.

Oh well. She wasn’t human anyway. Like all of’em, it was replaceable.

I boarded the train back to Littleton. Gonna need to put in an order for another one. I wondered how she’d look oh…I don’t know, purple? Then I opened my hand and smiled at her replicator core. She’d shoved it there as she fell.

I’d have my love back in the matter of a few days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finishing the third Witches of Aba Nam book!

I’ll be on a “writer’s retreat” in Houston, TX for the next two weeks where I am going to finish the third book in the Aba Nam series. It it is tentatively titled, The Eye of Teeswynd. This one will feature the long lost sister Naya Seven Travelers. All that’s needed now is the last several thousand words to wrap it up.

It also has a lead-in to a fourth book in the series!

Updates as they become available and possibly a first chapter post here.

Meanwhile, the third Scepter of the Nile book is slowly being reviewed by my beta readers. The results so far are excellent! Look for it as well over the next few weeks.