Friday, January 16, 2015

RISING FROM ASHES Chapter 1 and A Brand New Exclusive Story!

So for those who might have missed it the first chapter of RISING FROM ASHES: EMPIRE OF BLOOD BOOK THREE went up on Patreon, Wattpad, and (in the form of a video reading on) Youtube! (The audio is also free to download over at Patreon and you can also find the video down below in this post.) I'm gonna be doing at least one chapter a week up until and on past the official full eBook/paperback release which will be...

Drum roll, please! ......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................April 28th, 2015!

Yeah, I know you were hoping for sooner. However, I really want to do something different with this release. Hence the video and audio readings. I'm hoping people will interact with me on this. I'd really like us to experience this last EoB novel together in a fun and exciting kind of way. Kindle folks can set it up via the instructions on my Patreon page to get chapters directly on their devices and I'd love it if you all would check out my videos and read along. Some of you may be old enough to remember those old children's books that came with the record that you'd put in and listen to someone read the book to you  as you read along with them. That's almost exactly what I'm going for only directly from author to reader. From me to you. Here's the video of chapter one:




I've also worked on improving the perks and things for my Patreon page, giving the $5 a month package access to all of my published titles, new releases early (Including RISING FROM ASHES!), and rare and unreleased stories.

And once a month, I'll be releasing a brand new story completely exclusive to Patreon. In fact I just uploaded January's story. It's a 10,000 word novelette called Koadie's Monster and it's a stand alone story from my Ray Garret/Lifeline cyberpunk/crime series, in fact for those of you who've read Exit Reality, you might recognize that name as a fairly older Koadie Lawson features prominently in that 2013 novella. In a sense this is sort of his origin story. Like all of my other Lifeline stories, you don't need to have read any of the others to know what's going on. But for chronological sake, this story would be set before any of the other Lifeline stories I've put out. Here's the blurb I wrote for it:

Young Koadie Lawson is tired of Rudy bullying him on the bus. Every day the older boy picks on him, beats on him, and sometimes even spits on him. But today Koadie has a plan. He's going to finally get his revenge.

Using a new Lifeline program called LifeCraft, he creates the perfect interactive perceptual trap for Rudy in the form of a fake porn file. But when Rudy takes the bait, Koadie gets more revenge than he bargained for.

Now it's up to Ray Garret to go in and save Rudy from his own perceptual hell and bring the poor kid back to the real world before there's nothing left to save.

But first... he has to make it past Koadie's Monster...

Not enough? How about a sample?


*********************************


Koadie's Monster

by

Robert S. Wilson



Koadie had been thinking about Rudy Donavan when he started building the monster. Rudy and every other one of those bastards he had to walk through to get to the back of the bus every morning. But mostly Rudy. At least in Lifeshare Koadie could make up his own world, make up his own rules. Virtual or not, they were still better than that shithole of a real world out there.
Anyone looking from the outside would have seen a young boy with dark skin and blue eyes sitting at a computer, a small black plastic device sticking out of his ear. But these days only the dead and the elderly didn’t know what a Lifeline was. From Koadie’s perspective, he floated in a virtual tunnel, facing his latest creation, surrounded by a dull gray graphical interface with enough buttons and dials to keep a kid busy for centuries. He searched through the list of mods from a black side panel hanging in the air. He needed something especially gruesome to add to his monster—which currently consisted of a large man-shaped shadow and two red eyes.
Wooden items, ceramic items, common items, fabrics, liquids, smooth items, sharp items—that’s it. He tapped on the square marked SHARP ITEMS and it exploded into a huge sliding panel of icons, each one a different kind of sharp object. Knives, swords, daggers, eating utensils, rough broken pieces of wood, jagged rocks, rusty nails—perfect! Koadie grabbed the rusty nails and pulled them down onto the blank portion of the monster’s face, below the red glowing irises. He angled two nails downward so they resembled long sharp fangs. A chill rolled up his spine as he beheld his completed masterpiece.
He’d spent the last five weeks designing the setting for his revenge and now he finally had the means of delivering it. Koadie willed the list of settings to appear and it did so just as quickly as his brain had called for it. By now, he had accumulated quite a number of self-made settings for various uses from playing to studying, to just wanting a place to be left alone. Tucked in neatly with his usual favorite play places, the .lif file titled FREAK_RUDY_OUT waited to be chosen. Koadie renamed it to HOT_FUCKING_BLONDE.lif then tapped the icon and the world around him transformed random pixel by random pixel into a small unkempt yard in front of a modest white house dimly lit by a blurry silver sickle in a foggy sky. The chipping paint was faintly visible in the hazy light. Every detail of it was as real as any recording Koadie had ever seen in the Lifeline right down to the moisture reflecting off each individual blade of grass. He looked up. The shadow of an exaggerated feminine silhouette shaded in from the yellow-lit window just below the pinnacle of the house. Koadie grinned.
He willed the Setting Variables table to appear before him and started flipping through the different rooms within the house. When he came to the bedroom at the bottom of the list, he opened the Insert menu and tapped the New Item button. Then found his monster in the list, tapped it and watched as the progress bar filled with blue from left to right. A chime filled his ears to mark the task complete. He laughed and willed himself out of the setting then out of the Lifeline altogether. Mama’s old laptop and the plain brown wooden coffee table slowly resolved before him. He pulled the Lifeline device from his ear as the usual sense of displacement left him dizzy and disoriented.
With a ringing in his head and a smile on his face, he set the small black device on the table, got up from the living room floor, and ran off to his room to get ready for bed. Mama would be home soon and he didn’t want to get a busted butt again for being late to bed.

***

The next morning when it was time for Mama to leave for work, Koadie sat outside swinging on the porch swing, wrapped up in his winter coat, books at his side. Mama pretended to gasp at the sight of him as she came out the front door and then laughed, letting out a huge cloud of thick white fog. Koadie smiled and kicked his legs in the air.
“Ain’t it awful early fa yo ass to be out here waitin’ on the bus already?”
“I dunno…” Koadie couldn’t stop grinning.
“Whatcha smilin’ about? You look like you got a secret, lil’ man.”
“No, Mama, I’m just in a good mood. Have a good day at work…”
“Oh shit.” She looked at her watch. “Yeah, I betta go, baby. You have a good day at school, now, ya hear?” She kissed Koadie on the forehead with a big wet slap and turned around just in time to reveal Rudy Donavon walking up to the bus stop with a big spiteful grin on his big fat face.
Great, there goes that good mood.
Koadie thought about his plan for revenge. He was hoping to let his worst enemy’s first attack of the day bounce off of him when the time came. A minute later Mama was gone in a cloud of smoke from the ear-shattering muffler of her huge white Oldsmobile and all that remained were four boys waiting at the bus stop with big intimidating smirks on each of their faces.
Koadie let his mouth fall into the usual frown and got up from the porch swing then dragged his feet down the narrow concrete steps.
He didn’t have to pretend to be sad for very long. Usually the abuse didn’t start until they were on the bus. Rudy would be too busy telling his boys about the latest girl he “banged,” but this morning was different. As soon as Koadie stepped up onto the curb in front of the bus stop, one of Rudy’s buddies, Corbin, shoved Koadie hard. Fighting to keep his balance, Koadie felt something jab in behind his ankles and then he hit the pavement. Rudy Donavan stood over him laughing with accomplishment while Koadie fought to suck air into his lungs.
“Oh, I’m sorry, shitface, did you trip over my foot?” Rudy looked at the other boys, and they all laughed. “Here, let me help you, shitface.” Rudy bent down and offered his hand to Koadie, who knew it was only going to end badly, but took it anyway. Rudy pulled Koadie up with pale delicate fingers right into a waiting sucker punch from his other hand. Koadie bent forward holding his stomach. Monster or not, Koadie had had enough. He was just about to throw his books down and start swinging when the bus pulled up behind him. The double doors folded open and Rudy ran up to be first in line on the bus, glaring back at Koadie with a half smile.

***

Mrs. Dillman’s class helped Koadie calm down and remember that he had a solid plan in place. By the time they’d moved on to English, the last subject of the day, Koadie was anticipating the bus ride home with great eagerness. He circled the predicate in each sentence just like the directions explained and had the assignment on Mrs. Dillman’s desk before anyone else. Then he sat waiting with twiddling thumbs for the bell to ring and his bus number to be called. He gripped the usb stick in his pocket tightly. If Rudy took the bait, it was only a matter of time before Koadie got him back. Big time.

***

Fighting to keep his smile in check, Koadie climbed into the bus. Most of the seats were empty, but that didn’t matter. He wouldn’t have to seek out Rudy, the bus ride home always brought Rudy to him. But unlike any other day, this time Koadie wanted Rudy to make his appearance. Wanted Rudy to pick a fight with him. Wanted Rudy to find the usb stick in his pocket and wanted Rudy to steal it, take it home, and use it.
When the bus was full and the voices of teen and preteen girls and boys rang out over the local droning pop radio station, Koadie reached in his pocket and wrapped his sweaty fingers one by one over the small black usb stick and waited. About half an hour and half the kids dropped off later, a hand reached over the green vinyl seat behind Koadie and smacked him on the head so hard the sting of it brought a chill up his spine and through his shoulders.
Rudy laughed that wicked laugh of little bastard bullies. “Hey, shithead, what’s ‘a matter?” He pushed Koadie into the window side of the seat and pressed his body against him, squeezing him into the wall of the bus. Koadie’s breath left him for the second time that day and he gasped to get it back. Rudy’s eyes twinkled as he stuck his middle knuckle out like a jagged point and punched Koadie’s leg at close painful range. It was time, Koadie realized as the tears built up around his eyes, threatening to spill over onto his cheeks and down his nose.
He shoved back against Rudy with all his might, putting every ounce of concentration into each muscle as he pressed against him, but it was like pushing against a concrete wall covered in solid steel. Rudy let out a breathy giggle and slammed back into him, pushing harder this time, squeezing Koadie even more and elbowing him several times in the ribs for good measure. “I don’t like it when you do that, shithead.” From Koadie’s limited view he caught the eye of the bus driver for what had to be the dozenth time and just like each occasion before, the man quickly turned his eyes away pretending he hadn’t seen.
Koadie did his best to get a good kick in, but Rudy grabbed his leg and pulled him closer then let his fists take turns punching Koadie in the stomach. Right, left, right, left. Koadie leaned forward in between punches and threw out his own fist in a phony attempt to hit back. Rudy took the bait and grabbed Koadie’s hand. Koadie let go of the drive and it fell to the floor with a loud plastic clack.
“What—” Rudy shoved Koadie back against the wall then reached down blindly with his eyes on Koadie and his lips stretched into a sideways grin. “Looks like you dropped something, shithead.” Rudy sat upright holding the flash drive in his hand like a trophy to tower over all others. “Well, looky here.” He turned the small drive over in his hands. “Thirty-two terabytes. Nice. Thank you very much, shithead. I’ll treasure this always.” He scooted over real close to Koadie. “Here, I’ve got a gift for you too.” He leaned down and spit full on in Koadie’s face, leaving a wad of gooey phlegm sliding down Koadie’s cheekbone.
Just then the bus came to a halt and Rudy grabbed the seat in front of them and rose to his feet, gave Koadie one more devious look, then sauntered down the middle aisle and down the steps off the bus. Koadie grinned with a face covered in mucus.

***

The paper towels the bus driver gave him had gotten most of the nastiness off of his face and out of his hair, but when Koadie got home, the first thing he did was run for the bathroom and take a quick shower to thoroughly wash his face. He was a very independent child, always cleaning himself, taking care of his chores, and finishing his homework without having to be asked or reminded. But what he managed in responsibility he couldn’t seem to balance with social skills. He knew that. Understood it. But he didn’t know how to change it—or at least he hadn’t known before. Now, he had the answer. Eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth. He had learned the phrase sitting with Mama at church and now he would put it to use. Clean from his shower, Koadie dried himself off and dressed, then went straight to his bedroom and turned on Mama’s old gray laptop.

***

Rudy Donavon had just finished washing the old man’s antique Chevy Volt when he remembered the little shithead’s flash drive. He set the soapy blue rag down in the water bucket, dried his hands on his pants and pulled out the drive and looked it over. He wondered what was on it. Probably stupid kid stuff. Thirty-two terabytes wasn’t bad, but he wished the kid had let loose of a 256 or more. Oh well, little shithead hooked me up anyway. He let out a cackle that went on until the voice of his father stopped him cold.
“Just what the fuck are you laughing about, boy? Get back to work until that goddamn car is sparkling.” Father’s belt buckle gleamed in the dwindling sunlight, catching Rudy’s eye. He nodded, slipping the drive into his pocket quickly so his father wouldn’t see, and picked the wet rag back out of the bucket and went back to scrubbing the cherry red Volt.
Bob Donavon was a stocky man, tan and muscular with reddish blond hair, thick glasses, and a shaggy mustache that gave him a deceptively friendly appearance. But his son knew better. All too well. Standing in neat beige slacks with plain gray suspenders, his shirt thrown aside after a hard day’s work, cold beer in hand, Bob sat back down on the front porch watching Rudy with a look Rudy thought a prison guard might give an inmate who’d recently tried to escape.
Rudy spotted three crushed empty cans on the floor scattered beside his father’s feet. Four? Great. The evening had only just begun.

***

It was full on dark when Rudy was finally done washing the old man’s Volt. After scrubbing every last inch of its metal shell, vacuuming and scraping every crevice inside, and finally toweling it all dry to his father’s drunkenly absurd expectations, the old man finally let him go up to his room, but not without a few slurred threats of black eyes and bruised ass cheeks.
Rudy pulled out his old laptop and hooked up the flash drive. He hoped to use the stick to hide his latest Lifeline porn. The last time his father found his virtual perceptual porn collection, he beat Rudy black and blue and then took the files for himself. Rudy knew because that night the moans that came from his father’s usually lonely bedroom came from one solitary male voice. It wasn’t likely he’d be scrubbing that from his brain anytime soon.
But he didn’t let that stop him from finding the juiciest girls online though. At least that way he wasn’t lying to the other guys when he bragged about the girls he banged all the time. Deep down, he knew he didn’t have the balls yet to do it with a real girl. Besides, real girls wouldn’t give him the time of day.
The flash drive’s root folder popped up on his screen with only a handful of files. Silly kid stuff just like he thought but—wait. What’s this?
HOT_FUCKING_BLONDE.lif
Nice. A present from shithead.
Rudy set the Laptop down quietly and snuck over to his bedroom door, locking it. Then he opened his desk drawer and pulled out a black phallic-shaped Lifeline device with the letters “HPDID”—Human Perceptual Digital Interface Device—on the side. He picked up the laptop and started up LifeShare. A tan image with the LifeShare logo—several smiling male and female faces with closed eyes and Lifelines in their ears—popped up. When the program was open and waiting, he went into settings and clicked the Privacy tab. Sure enough, under Physical Host Connections, Vocal and Basic were switched to “Private Mode.” Unlike the old man, he knew how to get the job done quietly. He put the device in his ear and with HOT_FUCKING_BLONDE.lif highlighted, he slammed the Enter key and waited for the pleasure to begin.