What’s going on? LOTS!

Been a minute since I updated, so forgive me. Let’s do some news reveals!

APRIL SECOND: A release party will be held for Alabama: Nightmares & Urban Legends on Facebook. The party starts at 2pm – 7 pm Central Standard Time. We have some free goodies and e copies in books up for grabs so come spend the day with me. You can find the event HERE.

April 9th: My first book signing! If you happen to be in the Walker County area, come to the Jasper public library between 2-4 pm Central Standard Time. I will have autographed copies of The Rise of UMBRA and Alabama: Nightmares & Urban Legends for sale. I will also have 11 x 17 framed posters of the book covers for sale at $25. UMBRA will be $15, Alabama: Nightmares & Urban Legends will be $20. You can find the library’s facebook page HERE.

July 22: Talon: The Spider’s Web is finally coming out! Everyone’s favorite fanged Alabama resident makes his formal debut. Five Points South, Smith Lake, Homewood–a whole bunch of local places get featured as this Vampire tears a bloody path through the state. You don’t have to be an Alabama resident to enjoy this dark fantasy adventure. Get ready…it’s almost time!

I am openly working on The Rise of UMBRA sequel while waiting on Talon’s edits. I have tons going on. Keep coming back. I promise to be more active.

The Rise of UMBRA: Get it HERE.

Alabama: Nightmares & Urban Legends: Get it HERE FOR KINDLE and HERE IN PAPERBACK.

Burning Willow Press: Find their awesomeness RIGHT HERE.

NEW ANTHOLOGY RELEASE THIS MARCH: Death & Pestilence featuring my story “The Board.” Find it HERE.

Autographed Copies of “The Rise of UMBRA” available.

The Rise of Umbra

Have you checked out “The Rise of UMBRA” yet? It’s a Sci Fi action/adventure story with shades of “Firefly” like humor. For a limited time, I am offering autographed copies for the price of $15. This will INCLUDE shipping (as long as you live within the continental U.S.) This is LESS than the book costs from Amazon after you add in shipping and handling AND you are getting it autographed. Each autograph will be personalized and I will also include 2 bookmarks, 1 autographed as a keepsake and another for you to use.

If interested, please email: jaymichaelbookoutauthor@gmail.com and put “UMBRA AUTOGRAPH COPY” in the subject. There’s a limited number of these so act fast.

UMBRA sequel in the works!

Since “The Rise of UMBRA has been so successful, selling nearly 30 copies in just over a week, I immediately started working on the sequel. The title will be: UMBRA: The Nightmare Squadron. All your favorite characters are back facing an enemy that they know nothing about. Full of action, snarky wit, and all the things you loved about the first. So far, I’m three chapters in and closing in on 10k words! Stay tuned! UMBRA ain’t done yet!

Character Interview: Autumn, aka “The Widow” from The Rise of UMBRA

umbra

It’s a very interesting day here at the Oddest Interview Segment on the Internet, as we do our first character interview. I am joined today but Autumn from the novel “The Rise of UMBRA.” First of all, welcome to the show Autumn!

Yea, whatever.

Okay, would you like to tell people about yourself? I hear you and your partner, Sive, are the best assassins the Crime Cartel ever had.

Okay, firstly…We’re not an assassins. We’re bounty hunters. Somebody fucks up, we come and get you. If you fight, well…that’s on you. I have no issue putting a slug in someone’s head…including nosy interviewers.

Ahem, alrighty then. You and your partner, Sive–how did you meet?

I was a homeless teenager, living off of what I could steal. One day I just happened to pick Sive’s ship. There was enough loot in there to live like a Queen for months. Too bad he caught me. Not really sure why he didn’t kill me. He had every right to, but instead he took me on and trained me to be his partner.

And UMBRA, how did this team come together?

Hey! How do you know about UMBRA?

Well, I kind of wrote the book.

Book? What book? Are you keeping tabs on us? Because Dread wouldn’t like that in the least bit.

Yes, Dread. He’s the leader of the team right? Isn’t he the one who sent you on the mission to Mars?

I’m not sure how you know this, but yes. We were given the option of infiltrating a Martian research facility or death. That made the decision pretty easy.

How do you like your teammates?

Some of them are annoying–I won’t lie. Bumblebee for one. He’s let the fact he used to be a big deal in the cage fighting leagues go to his head. He’s used to women just throwing themselves at him. I don’t think he knew how to handle me when we met. 

What about the others?

Well, Harmonica is an older fellow–really nice. He used to work for the Earth military and he’s seen some things nobody should see. I like him though. He’s kind of a father figure type.

Leviathan is kind of quiet, but he’s a hell of a hacker. He’s the one who is the most different in the group. He’s not really into our business for the mayhem. He’s just trying to take care of his family. I think  you kind of have to respect him for that.

Bloody is a British smuggler, usually too stoned to really give a fuck. He’s a bit of prankster though. I still owe  him for the little speech he made right before I had to jump out of his ship.

You had to jump out of his ship?

Fuck yea, I did. Only way to get to the planet’s surface without being noticed. Fucking high altitude atmospheric reentry. I wouldn’t recommend it.

What about Dread? What’s he like?

Master strategist. I’ve got to give it to the man, he’s got the brains to make shit happen and the connections to cover his ass. He’s not a man to fuck with.

And what about his 2nd in command, D’leet?

The man is a fucking legend. He’s a muscle type but he’s smart too. Don’t let his reputation make you think otherwise.

Anything you’d like the fans to know before we finish?

Yea, don’t fuck with UMBRA. We WILL get you.

 

 

Talon: The Cocaine Cowboys (WIP) excerpt

I lifted him up by the arm and then throttled him by the throat. “Do you know who I am, Marty?”

He spit in my face and muttered something in Spanish. I wiped my face and howled, “Wrong answer, asshole!”

I tossed him on the bed, popped my fangs, and pounced on the bed. I got nose to nose with Marty and relished the feeling as the fear overwhelmed his eyes. “Wh-what the fuck are you?”

I snickered. “Jehovah’s Witness. I was wondering if you had a moment to talk about our personal Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

“What?” he asked, utterly confused.

I rolled my eyes and thought, My God, does no one get sarcasm in this fucking country?

 

14231826_10207200114228220_3128616430719324708_o

Rough Draft of the Party Scene from Rise of UMBRA

Nearly turning her ankle every other step, Autumn cursed her high heels. These things are a barbaric torture device from another century which should have been outlawed as being a crime against humanity. Sophy took Autumn’s arm and whispered in her ear, “Just hold onto me, dear. You’re doing quite good.”

The charity event was being held in the largest mansion in New Chicago. The place was swarming with socialites, politicians, and other assorted people of importance. To most, it probably looked like one hell of a party, but with all the media flashing pictures, to Autumn it looked like a fucking three ring circus.

Carefully navigating the stairs which led to the front entrance, Autumn concentrated on each and every step as Sophy whispered in her ear. “Now when we get to the security, calmly hand them your invitation and pray that your boy Leviathan is half as good as he’s rumored to be.”

Autumn hadn’t even had the thought of Leviathan’s invitation not passing the test. She had no clue what she would do if it didn’t. This damned evening gown Malignus had picked out for her didn’t leave any room for a pistol or her favorite sword. The best she could do was strap a knife to her inner thigh. Hopefully if things went bad, it would be enough to make their exit before they could be overwhelmed by security.

Reaching the security guards, Autumn’s hand shook as she reached into the purse which she carried her invitation. As one guard scanned Autumn’s invite, a second guard scanned Sophy’s. This was it. Time to find out of Leviathan knew his shit. There was a long pause and Autumn just knew she was about to have to fight her way off the property, but the guard eventually politely bowed and ushered Autumn inside with Sophy right behind her.

Holy shit! We made it in!

Once inside, Autumn was overcome with the beauty of the mansion. The chandelier was a huge hologram slowly turning as gave off light that circled about the room. Everything seemed to be made of marble and the two giant spiral staircases leading upstairs were covered in a lush red carpet. There were flowers Autumn had only seen pictures of and some she had never even seen decorating the room. It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.

Sophy whispered, “Don’t get caught up in the beauty, hun. We’re here to work. Remember that.”

Autumn nodded, “Yea, so where’s our mark, anyway?”

###

Sive smiled at the guard checking their catering pass nervously. “Quite the party. Looks like the whole town is here.” he said, suddenly realizing that making small talk was not one of his strong points.

The guard, armed with a fully automatic weapon, eventually handed the pass back and waved the van Sive was driving through. Passing through the gates, Sive sighed in relief. Leviathan’s pass had worked and they were inside. He glanced over at Sage who was giving him quite the dirty look. “Quite the party.” he said mockingly. “Do me a favor, Sive. Don’t talk to the guards anymore.”

“Oh give me a fucking break! We got in didn’t we?”

Sage scoffed, “Yea, no thanks to you and your brilliant use of the Queen’s English.”

“Oh cram it up your ass, mate. Let’s just get this van parked, get that monster of a cake in the building and take our positions.”

“Whatever you say, Earth-boy.” Sage said as he entered the rear of the van.

I swear to God, I am going to knock this clown out if he keeps smart-mouthing me.

Putting the van into park, Sive joined Sage in the back. Sage quickly retracted his quarter staff and hid it beneath his jacket while Sive changed into a much longer caterer’s jacket which would cover up the fact that he had his battle-ax with him. Together, they slid the three tier cake to the back of the van and carefully exited. More armed guards directed them through the entrance they were meant to use and they were finally inside the building.

“Cake goes out on the main banquet table, boys. Move it! You’re already late!” one of the guards barked at them.

When they were safely past him, Sive whispered, “Hey, Sage. Remind me to kill that asshole on the way out of here.”

“Only if you beat me to him.” Sage repeated.

###

Leaping over the wall, Artizar was safely on the mansion grounds and hiding in the bushes as a security patrol walked by. A buzzing went off in his hear and Malignus’ voice come through loud and clear. “Can you hear me, Arty?”

Arty whispered in response, “Crystal clear, sir.”

“Do you remember why you’re there?”

“Third floor, master bedroom, the safe behind the giant picture of the owner of the house. I’m all over it, boss. I’ll make you proud.”

“I know you will, Arty. Malignus, over and out.”

Arty laid in the bushes, timing the patrols as they came by. They seemed to be coming every two minutes, which was more than enough time to do what he needed to do. He crouched in the shadows and waited for a guard to walk by alone. He leaped out, put his hand over the guard’s mouth, and slid a needle into the man’s carotid artery. As the sedative took effect, the guard went limp. Arty pulled the man into the bushes and made a quick change of clothes and borrowed the guard’s security badge. Patting the guard on the head, Arty said, “Thanks, mate. Appreciate the help.”

Dusting himself off, Arty strolled out of the bushes, around the corner and straight into the building. He wasn’t sure what kind of security might lie upstairs, but he was pretty sure he could handle it. He’d been at this game a very long time.

###

Roaming around the edge of the dance floor, Autumn was slowly getting the feel for her heels, but she was having no luck finding her mark. “What if he’s not here?” she asked Sophy.

“Oh, he’s here. His name has already been marked off the guest list as being in attendance.”

Almost stumbling, Autumn caught herself and then asked, “How the hell do you know that?”

Sophy smiled. “I scanned the guard’s guest list and downloaded it into my own mini-computer here in my purse.”

Autumn couldn’t believe her ears. “How the fuck, girl? Damn! You’re good!”

“That’s what I’m here for.” Sophy said softly. Suddenly, she nudged Autumn in the ribs and nodded to her left. “Take a look. I do believe we’ve found our man.”

Autumn looked and saw Dr. Slocumb standing in the corner, sipping on champagne and talking to a slender blonde in a blue sequin dress. “Looks like someone’s already beaten us to him.”

Walking by Autumn in a hurry, Sophy said, “Not for long.”

Autumn watched as Sophy took a glass of champagne from a waiter’s tray and weaved her way towards Slocumb. As Sophy got close, she “accidentally” tripped and spilled her champagne all over Slocumb’s female friend who stormed off in a fit. Autumn smiled and seized the moment.

She walked up, painted on her best seductive smile, and said, “Hello, handsome. Can’t say I’ve seen you here before. You here alone?”

Slocumb took one look at Autumn and grinned ear to ear. The dress she was in was uncomfortable as hell, but it definitely showed off the goods. Slocumb said, “In fact, I am alone.”

Autumn took him by the arm and whispered in his ear. “In that case, you’re not here alone anymore.” They walked off arm and arm as Sophy smiled from across. Now to get this asshole drunk enough to get him to want to sneak me upstairs. This has got to be the weirdest mission ever.

###

Making it to the second floor was easy enough. Arty flashed his stolen security badge and walked right on up. The security on the second floor was lax at best. Most of the attention was focused on downstairs where all the guests were. Now, to just find the staircase leading to the third floor and pay-dirt.

The mansion was a fucking maze. It was ridiculous how many rooms this place had. Who in their right mind would need this much space? You could live with a full blown family of six and never cross paths in this place. Now, if I was a staircase, where would I be?

Suddenly, Arty heard the unmistakable sound of boots marching on hardwood floor. He ducked into a nearby bedroom and waited as the guards stomped by. When they finally disappeared around the corner, Arty stood up, only to realize that he wasn’t alone. There were two naked women on the bed kissing and caressing each other. The redhead of the pair smiled at him and motioned for him to get closer.

Son of a bitch! God really knows how to tempt a man.

Politely shrugging, Arty held up his security badge and the woman seemed disappointed but she was too busy tying her playmates hands to the headboard to really care. Maybe I could spare… no! We’re working here! Stay focused boy! Stay focused!

Doing what was perhaps the most difficult thing of his entire life, Arty exited the bedroom. He decided to head the direction from which the men had come marching. Maybe he’d find what he was after. Making a few twists and turns, Arty found the staircase. Fucking eureka! A quick trip upstairs and daddy’s going back to the bedroom with the two girls in it to celebrate!

Smiling from ear to ear, Arty started up the staircase, taking time to look for traps or alarm systems. Before he knew it he was on the third floor and that much closer to getting Malignus what he was after. This was going to be a good night after all. Wasn’t anything going to stop him now!

###

“Piece of cake, sir?” Sive said with his best fake smile painted on his face. These rich snobs are about to drive me crazy. I didn’t get into this business to serve cake. For the love of God, will Autumn hurry up and get that scientist reeled in already?

Leaning over, Sage elbowed Sive. He whispered, “Looks like your girl is layin’ it on pretty thick. That shit not make you jealous?”

Sive really hadn’t paid it that much attention, but as he watched Autumn flirt up Slocumb he got an odd feeling in the pit of this stomach. He quickly dismissed the feeling and carved out another piece of cake for the next socialite to come over craving their fill of chocolate. “Naw, man.” Sive replied. “She’s just my partner. It ain’t like that with us.”

Sage handed over a piece of cake to a woman who looked to be more silicone than person. He whispered, “Well, if it were me, I’d be jealous. That’s one fine lookin’ woman right there. Hey, if you two aren’t an item, would you mind if… you know?”

Sive gave Sage a look that could kill. “So help me, God, you lay a finger on her and I’ll chop your cock off.” Quickly painting on his fake smile, Sive handed over another piece of cake.

“A-ha!” Sage whispered. “You do care about her!”

“I care enough to not let some muscle-scum like you near her.” Taking a deep breath, Sive looked around the room, watching all the big-wigs strut their stuff. Just a bunch of rich pretty boys comparing wallets to see who’s the biggest rooster in the yard. They probably spent three times as much money throwing this party than they’re going to raise for the charity. What a fucking waste.

Out of the corner of his eye, Sive noticed Sage dumping a white powder into the crystalline punch bowl from which everyone who wasn’t drinking champagne was drinking. Inching Sage’s direction, Sive muttered, “Sage, what the hell are you doing?”

Turning towards Sive, Sage smiled ear to ear. “Just added a little hallucinogen to the punch. Figure it might spice the party up.”

Sive palmed his face. “Sweet Mary, mother of Jesus! Did you just spike the punch?”

Without missing a beat, Sage replied, “Yup.”

Man, this shit is going to end bad. I can just feel it.

###

Even though being undercover wasn’t her forte, Autumn was starting to get the hang of it. She laughed at all of Alexander’s jokes. She stroked his cheek at all the right moments and tugged on his tie to get him to move closer so she could whisper in his ear.

“So, what is it that you do?” she asked.

“I’m a research scientist.” Alexander replied, working on killing his fourth glass of champagne and already beginning to slightly stagger.

Oh my!” Autumn gasped. “All these good looks and smart? How in the world are you still single?”

Propping up against the wall, Slocumb slurred, “Just never had time for dating, not with all the research and what not. Hell, outside these mandatory social events, I barely have a life.”

Tracing her fingertips up his lapel, Autumn sighed, “That’s quite a shame. I imagine a man like you could offer a woman so much!

Just then Sophy came strutting up and, to Autumn’s surprise, placed a long kiss on her lips. When she was done, Sophy looked over at Alexander while all but pouring herself on top of Autumn. “Autumn, baby, are you out picking up men without me again? And who is this delicious hunk of man? Don’t tell me you were going to keep him all to yourself now were you?”

It took Autumn a moment to shake off the surprise of Sophy’s move, but she quickly caught on. “Sophy, darling, you know I would never do that. I was picking him up for us.” Following Sophy’s lead, she let her fingertips explore Sophy’s person while giving Alexander a look that just begged for him to come and take her.

“Oh!” Alexander gasped at a much higher tone than his normal voice. He quickly cleared his throat and said, “You two are an item?” Sophy and Autumn nodded in unison. “You two pick up men together?”

Sophy purred. “Mhm.”

“And you want me? Are you kidding me?”

Sophy grabbed Autumn by the hand and led Alexander by his tie. Looking over her shoulder, Sophy whispered in a raspy voice, “Why don’t you come upstairs and find out for yourself how serious we are?” Alexander may have been many things, but he wasn’t a man to complain when things were going his way.

###

After spending a few minutes getting his bearings, Arty finally figured out which way to go. He was almost there. Just right around this corner and…

Arty stumbled into a hallway and was faced with two armed guards in front of the bedroom which he needed to infiltrate. Oh, shit. Think fast, Arty. Well, they’re not shooting, so the uniform must still be working. Time to turn on the old Arty charm and bullshit my way through this.

Strolling up incredibly casually, Arty smiled at the duo guarding the door. “Hey, fellas!” he said, to which the guards exchanged looks and then gave Arty a funny look.

“So how’s it going guys? Quiet night, huh? Well, just came to tell you, the boss said you guys have done such a good job that you should go on downstairs and enjoy the party!”

The guard on the left, a six foot six monster made of stone, rolled his eyes and asked, “The boss told you this?”

“Oh yea!” Arty said as confidently as he could. “He said you guys could go on and for me to take over the post.”

The monster nodded his head slowly. “Mhm. Hey, how come I’ve never seen you before?”

“Oh, it’s my first day in the uniform!” It wasn’t a lie. Maybe it wasn’t the complete truth, but it wasn’t a lie.

“Well,” the monster looked at Arty’s name-tag, “George, I hate to break this to you, but I have my severe doubts that the security chief sent you up here.”

“Aw, c’mon, mate! Why would you say that?”

The monster’s face turned to stone. “Because I am the security chief.”

Arty sighed. “Well, this is awkward.” There was a pause and then Arty went to work. He spun, pulling a knife from beneath the borrowed uniform and stuck it straight through the second guard’s throat, actually attaching him to the bedroom door behind him.

The security chief raised his weapon but with one good kick, Arty sent it flying down the hall. The chief reached for his sidearm but Arty was crawling up the chief’s side like a monkey. He grabbed hold of the chief’s arm and wrapped his legs around his head, allowing gravity to pull the chief down to the ground. Pulling with all his might, Arty tried to break the chief’s arm, but the man was simply too strong. To Arty’s amazement, the man stood back up, twisted to one side and then hurled Arty has hard as he could into the bedroom doors. Losing his grip, Arty flew into the room and rolled across the floor until he slammed against the foot-board of the bed.

Arty had to move fast, the security chief had his side-arm in hand even before Arty stopped rolling. Taking a throwing knife from his boot, Arty hurled the blade through the air like an angry wasp set to sting. The blade lodged itself into the chief’s firing hand and the gun fell harmlessly to the floor.

The chief pulled the knife free and charged like a mad bull. Barely rolling to the side in time, Arty managed to stick a leg out and trip the man up. He landed chin-first against the bed-frame and blood spurted everywhere. Seizing the moment, Arty mounted the man’s back and locked a death-grip around the man’s neck. Straining every muscle for power, the giant security chief finally succumb to having his oxygen cut off. The man slumped to the ground as Arty stood over him and caught his breath. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how it’s done!

Heavily winded, Arty plopped down on the ground next to the security chief and caught his breath. Even though the chief was unconscious, Arty lit up a cigarette and began speaking to him. “You know, chief, my big brother was about your size. He used to beat the living crap out of me until I figured out: it doesn’t matter how big you are, if you can’t breathe, you can’t fight. Now I don’t need you waking up while I’m working on this safe, so here’s a little something to make sure you keep on napping.”

Arty took a syringe out of his pocket and jammed it quite roughly into the security chief’s bottom. “There you go, big guy. Sweet dreams! You may dream of large women…”

With that done, Arty was back up to his feet and investigating the gigantic picture of Lord Winston Allister III, Arch-Duke of this sector of Mars and host of tonight’s party. Any man who feels the need to have a four foot by six foot portrait of himself painted is surely compensating for something. He tried to lift the painting, but it wouldn’t budge. Hmm. He began checking the sides and noticed the right side of the painting seemed to have tiny hinges behind it which would allow it to swing open. Alright, Allister, how do you pop this thing open?

###

Sive was a bounty hunter, or an assassin, depending on who you asked. He could hunt a man down across a thousand miles, sneak up on him in the middle of the night, and make sure he never bothered anyone ever again. Sive had many talents, but being a caterer was definitely not one of us strong points. In fact, this charade of serving cake to uppity rich folks was starting to grind his nerves. The only thing worse was Sage and his constant ramblings about what Sive’s partner Autumn might be up to.

“Man, they sure been upstairs a while. I wonder what they’re doing. Do you think she’d sleep with him? She might. You just never know on these undercover missions.” With every word Sage said Sive could feel his blood pressure going up.

“Would you shut up, already? She’s doing what she has to do and that’s all.”

Shrugging, Sage said, “Fine, fine, I’ll stop. But for someone who isn’t dating her you sure get pissy seeing her look at another man.”

Sive had heard enough, he turned to Sage and spoke as loudly as he could without drawing attention to himself. “Look! I don’t know what your fucking problem is, but you need to chill the fuck out.”

To Sive’s amazement, Sage actually looked remorseful. He hung his head and took a deep sigh. “Look, Sive, it isn’t you. It’s these damn people. Look at this room. Just take a look around. It’s a room full of rich pompous assholes. Some of which had my mom evicted from her apartment so they could build another fucking Martian mall.” Sage pointed at an older gentleman across the room laughing it up with a circle of people. “You see that asshole? He’s the CEO of Martia-Pharm. He raised the cost of every medication they sold by a thousand percent! Now people can’t even afford the medicine they need to live because that cocksucker needed more money to fund his new yacht. This room is full of people who don’t deserve to live. If you want to know why I’m so damned edgy, that’s why! It’s got nothing to do with you or Autumn, but if I don’t find some way to distract myself, I’m likely to go on a killing spree.”

Suddenly, Sive understood Sage, at least kind of. He wasn’t trying to be an asshole, he was trying to keep his mind someplace else so he didn’t snap at having to serve all this snooty party-goers. Just as Sive was about to respond, a rather robust fellow walked up to their table carrying a half-eaten piece of cake. With a look of disgust on his face, the robust fellow barked, “Excuse me! This piece of cake has a hair on it! This is completely unacceptable!”

Taking a look at the dish, Sive did indeed see a piece of hair on the cake, but it was a red colored hair, the exact same shade as the young woman at the man’s side. “Well, perhaps, sir, you should keep your cake away from your daughter’s long flowing hair.”

The robust man cleared his throat angrily. “Daughter? That’s my wife!”

Sage was quick to step into the situation. “Your wife? My, you must be doing well for yourself. How else would a man of your… stature…get a woman so obviously beyond your reach?”

It took Sive all he had to not burst into laughter. The robust man slammed the saucer of cake down on the table and exclaimed, “Well I never!”

Sage elbowed Sive and replied, “Well maybe you should. It might loosen your tight ass up!”

“That does it!” the robust man bellowed. “I want the number to your company so I can file a formal complaint!”

Sage smirked mischievously and replied, “The number is 1-800-go-fuck-yourself. Now move along, fat man.” The robust man stormed off, but before his wife got away, Sage handed her a card and did the hand sign for her to call him.

Once they were alone again, Sive burst into laughter. “Did you really just do that?”

Smiling like the Cheshire Cat, Sage responded, “Sure did.” The two exchanged fist bumps and for the first time that evening, Sive actually started to like the man he was working with.

###

Closing and locking the bedroom door behind them, Autumn was ready to be done with this mission, out of this dress, and out of these Godforsaken heels. The room was on the second floor and was perhaps the finest bedroom she had ever seen. The furniture was all of a fine cherry-wood finish and the bed was one of those canopy beds she had seen pictures of in the history books. The sheets were a white satin which matched the white lace which hung from the canopy.

Sophy, thank God, took the lead once they were in the bedroom. Still pulling Alexander by his tie, she sat him down on the bed, straddled him, and pushed him onto his back. She grinned as she looked over her shoulder and then turned her attention back to her prey. “So, Alex, have you ever tried Xanabis?”

Alexander’s eyes got huge and he started sweating. “You mean the drug?”

Sophy chuckled. “It’s not so much a drug as a plant. It helps enhance the senses, make things…more pleasurable.” Reaching into her purse, Sophy produced what looked like a hand-rolled cigarette and a lighter. “A couple puffs off of this and you’ll have a night you will never forget.”

Alexander spoke nervously. “Well, I, um, I’ve never done drugs. I’ve found them to be… morally questionable.”

Laying down on top of him, Sophy licked up the side of Alexander’s neck. “Are you really worrying about morals in a time like this? Come now, Alex, when in Rome…

“Well,” Alex said, “I guess just this once wouldn’t hurt.”

Sparking up the Xanabis cigarette, Sophy handed it to Alex and gave Autumn a wink. Autumn had to resist giggling. Watching Sophy work was quite a sight to see.

###

The painting had a secret lever on the mantle beneath it, but Arty found it easy enough. The picture swung open to reveal a high-tech safe with a digital number lock. Pretty nice safe, top of the line… two years ago. Taking the safe cracking tool he carried in his pocket out, he attached a sensor to the safe and turned the device on. In a matter of minutes the six-digit code to crack the safe appeared on the device’s screen. Easy as cake.

Arty put the device back in his pocket and punched in the lock’s combination. The safe slid open automatically revealing a pile of paperwork, some jewelry, the item Malignus had sent him after, and something else that caught his eye. Before dealing with the eye-catcher, Arty picked up what he had come for: an old energy sword. It was about twenty five years old, and for a time, had been all the rave, but the sword’s short battery life had put an end to its popularity. For an hour, it was the damnedest killing machine known to man. After that, it was a useless electronic hilt. This particular sword had belonged to Malignus and had been stolen by a member of the Martian Special Forces. Malignus was going to be thrilled to get this back in his possession.

Now that was handled, Arty eyed the largest blue diamond he had ever seen. Bloody hell, that thing’s as large as my fist. Even though he wasn’t sent to steal it, Arty just couldn’t resist taking a little extra booty for himself. He carefully reached out, placing his fingertips on the gem as gently as he could. His heart raced, his excitement grew, he was about to be a very wealthy man.

As he lifted the gem from it’s pedestal, a siren began ringing all throughout the house. Oh shit! Damn thing was on a weight sensitive platform! Stupid, stupid, Arty! You always check for that first!

Quickly pocketing the gem, Arty turned to find six fully armed security guards with their weapons pointed straight for him. Arty faked a smile. “Hello, gents. Well, this is awkward.”

Before they could respond or act, with one hand he through a smoke bomb at the feet of the guards. With the other hand, he threw a handful of throwing knives into the smoke, just hoping some would connect. As the machine-gun fire filled the room, Arty ran for the closed window. There was no time to open it so he crashed through the glass and began free-falling. It was three stories to the ground. He just hoped there would be something soft down there to land on.

###

Sage was about at the end of his rope. This mission was taking way too long for his taste. What happened to the good ole days when you snuck in, pulled a guy off to the side, put two holes in his head and just strolled out like you didn’t see a thing. If something didn’t happen soon he was going to…

Holy shit! Machine-gun fire!

It sounded like upstairs had just turned into a war-zone. As other security guards started rushing towards and the stairs and civilians scattered for the exits, he whispered to Sage, “Orders were if things went bad and there was no sign of the girls, we’re supposed to regroup outside and wait for radio contact. So c’mon and…”

Sage acted like he had never heard of the plan. He slung off his caterer’s jacket, took out his retractable quarterstaff, and started whacking anything that moved: guards, waiters, little old ladies trying to make it to the exit—it really didn’t matter. Sage was after them all. Sive couldn’t believe his eyes. Or we could just start killing everyone in the room, whatever works for you, Sage.

Sive followed lead and threw off his catering jacket. He took the battle-ax from his waist and popped the blade open. As a guard stormed out of the kitchen behind them, he spun and with one powerful cleave sent the man’s head flying through the air. Sage turned and smiled, saying, “Nice.”

Sage acted like a man possessed. He was in the middle of the room twirling his quarterstaff as he spun to the left and back to the right. Anything and anyone who got within range he was unceremoniously smacking in the face or the chest. The main security downstairs had run to see what the disturbance upstairs was, but the security outside were now rushing in and things were about to get messy.

Sive screamed, “Sage! Incoming!” as he punched a man in the tuxedo to the ground.

Sage stopped twirling and removed a satchel which he carried around his waist. He threw it at the front door at the feet of the incoming guards and then clicked a button on his wrist. The satchel exploded and the entire building seemed to shake. When the dust cleared there were more than two dozen bodies laying in the rubble. Security guards and party guests alike littered the dance-floor and entrance of the building. My fucking God, we’re setting up a massacre here.

Sive run up to Sage and grabbed him by the arm. “We’ve got to go!”

Sage roared, “C’mon, I’m just getting warmed up!”

Sive refused to release his grip. “No time for taking out old grudges. This wasn’t our mission. Now get your ass in gear and let’s get to to the van!”

Begrudgingly, Sage started following Sive back out through the kitchen while the screams of death and sorrow filled the mansion. Sive tried four times to contact Autumn as they made their exit. The house either had jammed all communications or Autumn wasn’t in the condition to talk. The thought of the second possibility didn’t set well with Sive at all and he felt a bit sick.

As they entered the kitchen, it appeared the place had been abandoned. Apparently the kitchen staff was being paid enough to deal with terrorist attacks. It looked like they were in the clear until a guard stepped around the corner and put three bullets into Sive’s left leg. “Son of a bitch!” Sive screamed as he felt the sting of metal piercing flesh.

Sage was quick to dispatch the guard. He picked up a butcher’s knife from the counter and hurled it across the room. The blade embedded itself almost to the hilt in the man’s chest. Helping Sive to his feet, Sage helped him limp out to the van. “Can you still drive?” Sage asked.

Sive grunted, “I got it. Just take care of anything that tries to get in our way.” Sive started the catering van they had used to sneak into the party and turned it around towards the exit just as a slew of security came pouring out the kitchen entrance. “Shit! Sage, what tricks you got left?”

Sage grinned ear to ear. “Just something I borrowed from Bumblebee. Just drive, daddy’s got this.” Sage climbed into the back of the truck and Sive wondered, Just what the holy hell did he get from Bumble?

The metallic sound of hundreds of bullets bouncing off the van gave Sive chills. This mission was so out of control and going wrong. He didn’t even want to think about how mad D’leet was going to be after this. In the rear-view mirror, Sive saw Sage kick the van doors open and stand upright. What in the hell is he…

Suddenly a small rocket flew out of the back of the van, the fire propelling it nearly scorching the side of Sive’s face. What the fuck?

As the rocket struck the small fleet of cars parked out back of the mansion, a series of explosions went off, sending a fireball high into the Martian sky. “A fucking rocket?” Sive bellowed. “Are you fucking kidding me?”

Sage stuck his head back into the front of the van smiling from ear to ear. “Pretty fucking cool, huh?”

“When were you going to tell me you had that?”

Sage took his seat, still smiling, “Oh, hey Sive, I got a rocket launcher in the back of the truck. See, I told you.” Sage laughed maniacally. “Damn it I love my job! Woooo!”

They were almost to the exit when the gate starting closing in front of them. “Aw shit.” Sive whispered. “We’re not going to make it!”

“Ram the gate!” Sage screamed.

“We’ll never make it!”

“Do it!”

“No!”

Reaching over with his leg, Sage put his foot on top of Sive’s and pressed the accelerator down to the floor. “Do it, baby! Rock and fucking roll!”

They burst through the gate, skidding into the street and going up on two tires before the vehicle finally stabilized. There were a few men taking pop-shots at the truck, but for the most part they were completely in the clear. Sive kept driving and shot a dirty look in Sage’s direction. Sage smiled, shrugged his shoulders, and said, “What? We made it out!”

###

Alexander was good and relaxed as Sophy continued her seduction. The Xanabis had worked its magic. Slocumb was barely moving when the sounds of machine-gun fire on the floor above them started going off. Sophy and Autumn exchanged concerned glances as it sounded like the top floor was about to rip itself off of the building.

Alexander sat up, screaming, “What the hell is that? I’ve got to go!”

Sophy rolled her eyes and said, “We’ve not got time for this.” She wrapped Alexander’s tie around his neck and flipped him off the bed and onto the floor where she held him as he began to turn red and struggled to breathe. Looking up at Autumn, Sophy screamed, “My purse! Get the syringe!” Autumn took out the mind-control serum and Sophy shook her head. “Not that one! We don’t have time for it to work! Get the red one! It’s a sedative.”

Autumn did what she was told and handed the syringe to Sophy who pulled the cap off the needle with her teeth and then jammed the concoction into Alexander’s neck. Instantly, he went as limp as a rag doll. “Fuck, Sophy! Did you kill him?”

Standing up, Sophy smirked. “No, no. He’s just out cold. Now just help me carry him out of here. We’re just a pair of party guests helping our drunk friend out of the building. Now move! Whatever is going on, we don’t want caught in the middle of.”

Before Autumn could help grab Alexander off the floor, the door to their room was kicked open and a slender man with an assault rifle rushed in. “What’s going on in here?”

Oh crap.

Before Autumn could even react, Sophy took a pair of retractable batons she had hidden on her thighs out and cartwheeled to the guard. She brought both batons down with an incredible force, knocking the guard unconscious at least, snapping his neck at the worst. Autumn could not believe what she had seen.

“Where did you learn to fight like that?”

Sophy smiled. “I was created in Bio-Tech laboratories with a combination of human DNA’s which would assure me optimal agility, strength, and natural fighting abilities.”

Autumn’s jaw dropped. “Wait, you… you’re a clone of some kind?”

“Not exactly a clone, more a bio-engineered human created for maximum effectiveness in combat situations. Now help me carry Alexander out of here before we have more company.”

As Autumn helped pull Alexander to his feet, she grunted, “I thought bio-engineering humans was illegal.”

Sophy smiled. “It is, but then again, so is bounty hunting, but that never stopped you now did it?”

Autumn supposed she had a point, but bio-engineered humans? How many were out there? What else could Sophy do? Did she have free-will or was she a slave to her design? None of this made any sense at all. Autumn had a thousand questions, but they would have to wait. A giant explosion downstairs rocked the entire building. It took Autumn all she had just to keep her feet, but they carried on, down the stairs and into what looked like a war-zone.

Oh my god! There were at least thirty, maybe forty people laying on the ground. Some of them were missing body parts. Autumn had seen some nasty scenes before, but this had to be one of the worst. At least with all the confusion, no one seemed to pay Sophy and her a lick of attention as they carried Alexander out the front door.

Approaching the valet, Sophy screamed out, “Hey! We need our car!”

The valet, a young man who look absolutely terrified, stood there with his knees knocking. “Which car, ma’am?”

As another valet pulled up in what was obviously the car of the old couple standing beside the valet, Sophy screamed, “That one!” She forced the old couple to the side, actually knocking the man into the shrubbery, and forced the three of them into the car. Alexander was laid in the back, while Autumn and Sophy took the front seat. Just to be polite, Sophy tossed a pair of cold coins at the valets and waved. “Thanks, boys!”

Before anyone could stop them, Sophy and Autumn were out into the streets and leaving the nightmare of the mansion far behind. They had made it out, but Autumn wondered what in the hell had gone wrong and if Sive was okay. She tried contacting him on her communicator but the damn thing was on the fritz. She sat there, a bundle of nerves, as Sophy turned on the radio and began singing whatever pop song that had come on at the top of her lungs.

###

Crammed into the tiniest of places, Arty could barely breathe. It was dark and the place stunk of gasoline. This was a living hell. He couldn’t take it anymore. He began beating on every corner of the trap which held him. He heard the sounds of muffled voices and wheels slowing to a stop. Within moments, the trunk popped open he could see glorious freedom, and the incredibly disturbed face of a middle-aged man trying to make sense of why there was someone in his trunk.

Ever the quick thinker, Arty popped out of the trunk, dusted himself off, and shouted, “Wow! What a fucking party! Am I right? I mean, I can not tell you the last time I ended up in the trunk of a car at a party!”

He kept talking as he walked away, prepared to run at the first sign of the man calling for authorities. “Great night, man! Wow, one hell of a night! Definitely writing this one down in my diary when I get home! Thanks for the ride!”

He gave a friendly wave to the man, who still stood there like a statue in a state of shock. The confused man waved back and Arty was off through the bushes and into a public park. He wasn’t exactly sure where he was, but he had Malignus’ sword and the blue diamond that almost got him killed. Overall, all things said and done, it actually wasn’t that bad of a night.

Arty started smiling as he actually began to skip along the path in the park. Yup, tonight was a good night.

Sci Fi Novella in the works

“The Rise of UMBRA” is a Sci Fi adventure set around 300 years into the future.  A select group of the Crime Cartel that runs Earth’s mafia have been selected for a special mission.  After finding out every other member of the Cartel has either been arrested or assassinated, they are given a choice:  infiltrate a Martian military base and steal whatever secrets they can find (which will have their records, including birth certificates, criminal records, everything–it will be like they are ghosts), or they can refuse and be hunted down by the government of Earth like their counterparts.  The accept the mission, hoping to reform the Cartel in their own image once they are successful,but they discover they’ve bitten off more than they thought once they reach the Red Planet.