Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"Philosophical Fantasy (excerpt)" by Dr. Ace T. Jericho, Rogue Journalist

[originally published in Maison Meson Quarterly, October 2001; from The Jericho Files collection]

"And you, Atlos," said the wizard. "Are you ready to take on this quest, to take the burden of this world upon your shoulders?"

Atlos shrugged. "I guess so, Master Flayto."

"Then to begin, you must first enter the Cave."

"No. Not the Cave."

"Yes. The Cave."

"But the alligator--"

"Allegory."

"Huh?"

"The stories about the Cave are allegories. Not alligators."

"Oy!"

Atlos turned at the shout.

Scam stood at the end of the lane with a mare and a wooden cart. "I've got our travel arrangements."

"Be certain you don't mix them up, Master Scam," said Flayto.

"What do you mean?" said Scam.

"Horse, then cart."

"What?"

"He means don't put the cart before the horse, Scam," said Atlos.

"Oh! Right! I knew that."

"Good horse," said Flayto.

"You know it?" said Atlos.

"The mare?" Flayto nodded. "Her name is Imbrium."

"What happens when I get to the Cave?" said Atlos.

"You must seek out the serpent Sturmandrang and defeat it. The serpent guards the only weapon which can defeat the Follies--the Hie Dagger."

"But I still don't understand why I must do this. I'm just an apprentice mapmaker."

Flayto chuckled. "Atlos Randmacnallie, there is more about you than you think. Fear not, my boy. You will have help on your quest."

"What kind of help?"

"Me," said a voice.

The two of them turned.

A tall figure dressed in black stood before them, rugged, stubbled face staring out from beneath the cowl of his cloak.

"Who are you?" said Altos.

"I am Vigilius," said the stranger, bowing with a flourish. "At your service."

"It is good to see, old friend," Flayto said to Vigilius.

"Who's the vagabond?" said Scam, walking up to the trio.

"That 'vagabond'," said Flayto, "is from the kingdom of Soren. A member of its elite soldiers."

Altos gasped. "You mean he's one of the Keer'kh Guards?"

Come back next week for another entry of The Jericho Files!
Read previous Jericho Files entries here.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas To All!

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Season's Greetings.

Enjoy family and friends, relax, and have a great and safe holiday.

Thanks for hanging out with me in this little corner of the Interwebz.

(photo: Talis Source Blog/scottfeldstein)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"It's Powerful Knowledge, By George" by Dr. Ace T. Jericho, Rogue Journalist

A frantic series of knocks on the front door of The Lair startled me out of a trance writing session of savage rogue journalism.

Caution immediately overtook me and I snatched up the whaling harpoon hanging on the wall above my desk and planted myself in the front entry, harpoon at the ready, fluke tip leveled at the door. "I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the Flame of Anor!" I called out in my best Ian McKellen but sounding oddly more like Brock Peters. "The dark fire will not avail you, Flame of Udun! Go back to the shadow. You. Shall not. Pass!"

"Jericho!" said a voice on the other side of the door. "It's Duke! Open up!"

"What's the password!"

"For the love of all that's Felicia Day, open the damn door!"

"Good enough," I replied, lowering the harpoon, and opening the door. It was my old friend Cordwainer Duke, all right. Aside from Anne, my Trusty Companion, he was the only other person who knew I had a crush on Felicia Day. I silently cursed him as I opened the door.

Duke stepped inside, dressed in his customary dark gray tweed jacket with elbow patches, pair of tinted aviator-style glasses, and carrying a thick leather satchel slung over one shoulder. "We have to talk."

"I had writing-sign the likes of which even God has never seen," I said, "and you interrupted."

"We have to talk," Duke repeated. "Have you got beer?"

"Hefeweizen," I said, closing the door. "In the fridge."

Duke went into the kitchen. I sat back down at my desk. A moment later, Duke returned with a chilled pint glass filled with beer. He took a long pull, grabbed a nearby stool, set it in front of me, and sat down.

"You could've called, you know," I said.

He shook his head. "Couldn't risk an open line. Better to meet in person."

"So what's going on?"

"Remember what we talked about last time? In the city?"

I remembered. Vividly. Omega-13. Covert wing of the SFWA. The Fey Invasion at the end of next year. Urban Fantasy authors as our trainers. I repeated what he'd told me.

"Correct," he said. "And there's more. Did you see that video by George Takei?"

"The Star Peace one?" I said. "Sure. What's that got to do with--"

"It's no joke," said Duke.

I fought back a gasp but failed. "You mean...!"

Duke nodded. "Part of the Fey Invasion plan. We've been following it for a while and thought it was going to blow over. Twilight, I mean. But Azerov noticed some strange patterns going on. He put two and two together, got six, and knew something was up."

"Twilight?" I said. "Sparkly vampires? Beefcake werewolves? That's part of the invasion?"

"Insidious, isn't it. Azerov's been working around the clock since the video went up on the Interwebs, checking in with his contacts around the world. He's learned that they've put together a hidden army. They call themselves the Twilight Revolutionary Army Paratroops."

"It's a TRAP," I said, as if my mouth were full.

"Exactly," Duke said. "Can you get this out to your readers? Pronto?"

"I can," I said. "They're dialed in to the pulse. They know that the worm is the spice. That knowledge is power. And that power is great. And with great power comes Tobey Maguire."

"Good." Duke downed the beer and got up. "I have to go. There are other people I need to see. Including George Takei. He needs to be warned."

"Is he in danger?"

"Possibly. His blueberries must be protected. Azerov says the North Carolina blueberries are extremely susceptible."

"Susceptible to what?"

"Exactly. We can't have anything even close to what happened in Santa Barbara."

"What happened in Santa Barbara?" I asked.

"TriCon. Tri-Annual Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention. Kidnapping case solved by a local psychic. G.T. could've been in the line of fire."

"G.T.?"

"George Takei."

"And what line of fire?"

"Explosives set to go off under the stage of the S.B. Convention Center."

"Not John Malkovich?"

"Or Clint. Luckily George wasn't."

"Omega-13 saw to it?" I ventured.

Duke nodded. "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor blackest night, no evil shall escape our sight."

"Isn't that the oath of the Green Lantern Corps?"

"We have many oaths," said Duke. "That one's non-repeatable."

"I won't repeat it," I said. "Mum's the word."

"The bird is the word," said Duke.

Come back next week for another entry of The Jericho Files!
Read previous Jericho Files entries here.

Monday, December 19, 2011

"The Books of War" by Dr. Ace T. Jericho, Rogue Journalist

The Scientologists and the Delreyans were preparing for local war and I was stuck in the middle of the bloody mess because I was, literally, in the middle of the two camps.

Our neighbors Cyril and Hester Thwing were high-ranking Delreyans, of the Great and Holy Order of Lester and Judy-Lynn del Rey, and they were currently standing on their front lawn surveying the blue and white-trimmed house across the street and to the left.

Cyril was a huge, barrel-chested man well over six-and-a-half feet, with a thick shock of red hair pulled back into a ponytail and equally thick beard that fell over his chest. Hester was shorter than her husband by only two inches, with long red hair that fell to the middle of her back, wound in a thick braid, had the face of a supermodel and the build of a woman who either worked out with bulldozers or wrestled Brahma bulls.

Both were dressed like pirates: blousy shirt under a knee-length brocaded coat, knee-high boots, tricorn hat, a cutlass at their hips held by a baldric, and a brace of pistols.

I stood on my front walk with my morning paper and looked over the hedge that ran between our houses. "Ahoy, mateys," I said.

"Jericho," said Cyril, without looking at me, his voice a rich, sonorous baritone. " 'Ware the dungballed pump-pullers off the port bow."

"I know," I said. "The bastards have been taunting me all week. They even had the audacity to call me a 'lint licker.' "

"Using an open source sound editing program?" said Hester.

"Yeah, and blasted through speakers somewhere on their property," I said.

"Ruffians," said Cyril.

Then a tinny, amplified voice rang out from across the street: "You are all cabbage! Normal persons wouldn't steal pituitaries!"

"You know they're the ones who've been nailing dead weasels on your front door, right?" said Hester.

"What!" I said. "Anne and I were thinking it was the gun controllers down the street."

"No," said Cyril. "They're not that imaginative. Always parroting talking points by rote." He gestured toward the Scientologists. "It was them."

Suddenly, a mass of rectangular objects shot up into the sky from behind the Scientologist house, arced overhead, and rained down onto the sidewalk in front of us.

I dashed forward to look.

Several mass-market paperback copies of The Sword of Shannara bearing the Del Rey logo on the spine had been neatly chopped in half and flung at us.

Hester was at my side and I heard her sharp intake of breath.

"Goddamn animals!" she spat. "Greg and Tim would be horrified at this treatment of their cover work!"

"Especially Tim," I said, "may the gods rest his soul."

Cyril was there now, down on one knee and examining one of the chopped copies. "Foul beasts," he said and held up the fragment of book, his expression grim. "These were first printings."

Hester growled. "They wanna play dirty? We'll play dirty." She whirled and stalked back into their house.

"What next?" I asked.

Cyril watched his wife disappear inside, his eyes narrowed. "Not sure. But hell hath no fury and all that."

I nodded in agreement and turned to look at the Scientologist house. In the front window, I could see a pair of eyes peering out from the edges of curtains.

According to Cyril, they were Ray and Edith Jones, late of Los Angeles, and they worked for the Church of Scientology International's Office of Special Projects, aka OSP. The OSP, under the oversight of the Sea Org (their elite inner circle of Scientologists), was actually a secret army of shock troops whose mission was to seek out and destroy suppressive persons--their opponents and enemies.

That meant the Thwings.

That mean me and Anne.

At that moment, I patted the .45-caliber pistol in the flap holster at my hip, hidden beneath my safari jacket.

Good. Still there.

Praemonitus, praemunitus goes the Latin.

Forewarned is forearmed.

I knew the Joneses had only moved in a few months ago and when Cyril had found out they were Scientologists, he and Hester had begun war preparations. He'd told me and Anne shortly thereafter and the two of us had taken to keeping armed at all times. After all, I had told the Jonses they were batshit crazy. They hadn't liked that. It was good to know they'd been the ones to hang the dead weasels on our door. Probably also the ones who spray painted "monkey fuckers" across our garage.

Conniving toads.

I remembered asking Cyril some weeks earlier when the war between the Scientologists and the Delreyans had begun.

"Technically, mid-September 1949," Cyril had said. "That was when Hubbard started talking to Campbell about dianetics. Then came the article 'Dianetics' in the May 1950 issue of Astounding. A lot of hullabaloo when the issue came out. Lester panned it in a speech at Hydracon that July. And later in Marvel Science Stories the following May. But the Great and Holy Order didn't form until late '93, after Lester passed away. Hester and I joined in June of '94. Skirmishes had already been fought, but under the radar of most people."

"Covert stuff then?" I'd asked.

"Very covert," Cyril had replied.

At that moment Hester appeared from the side of their house pushing a wheelbarrow toward the sidewalk. It was piled high with copies of Battlefield Earth, Buckskin Brigades, Final Blackout, the Mission Earth series, Typewriter in the Sky, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, Dianetics 55, and The Way to Happiness. On top of the pile was a five-gallon jerrycan. When she reached the sidewalk, she parked the 'barrow, picked up the jerrycan, popped the cap, and began pouring its contents onto the books.

The sharp tang of gasoline hit my nostrils.

"Hester!" I called. "Sweet Mother of Dingos, Woman! Don't do it!"

"Back off, Jericho," Hester snarled, then pulled a Zippo lighter from the sash at her waist and thumbed the cover open.

"For the love of Anakin, don't fall to the dark side!" I said. "You're about to pull a Godwin!"

Cyril stepped between us. "Not that Godwin, Jericho," he intoned. "The other Godwin." He pointed to the chopped paperbacks. "You know it's right. You saw what they did."

That stopped me in my tracks like a punch to the balls.

h amount of fuel will not power an EDS with a mass of m plus x safely to its destination.

Cyril was right. It was the other Godwin.

I stared down at the surgically sliced sections of Shannara and could almost hear the pages crying out in agony. Like being sliced with razor blades and left in a lemon juice bath.

Bile bubbled at the back of my throat.

Barbaric. Simply barbaric.

At least Hester's way would be cleansing.

Yes. Cleansing.

A cleansing fire.

Purification.

Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.

Requiescat in pace, baby.

I gritted my teeth, felt my eyes welling up with tears. "So be it," I said, my voice husky with emotion.

Cyril gave me a short nod and turned to Hester.

Hester snatched a soaked copy of Dianetics from the wheelbarrow and held it up. In her other hand, she flicked on the lighter. Then she faced the Scientologist house.

"Hear me, Defilers!" she called out, her voice ringing. "You have desecrated our books! Therefore we will desecrate the books of your lying, hack writer overlord! Xenu can kiss my ass!"

Then she lit the book and hurled it into the wheelbarrow. The entire pile gave a whuff! and erupted in huge tongues of flame that licked at the sky.

The Scientologist house screamed.

"You'll pay for this!" they screeched.

"Bring it!" Hester called back.

And local war descended upon us.

No matter, though.

I was armed.

And I was a Professional.

Come back next week for another entry of The Jericho Files!

Read previous Jericho Files entries here.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

In Which I Pimp Upcoming Books by Regan Summers and Tiffany Allee

A couple of my author compatriots have books coming out next year (which means in a few weeks). Both are UF, and both look like a lot of fun.

Don't Bite The Messenger by Regan Summers is from Carina Press

Banshee Charmer by Tiffany Allee is from Entangled Publishing

Put them on your list, pre-order now, or get them when they're hot off the presses.

Go. Now. Do it.

Friday, December 16, 2011

"A Dire Warning" by Dr. Ace T. Jericho, Rogue Journalist

"Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world"
—"The Second Coming," William Butler Yeats

An Intertubes Associate named Pit Viper* posted to his blog recently talking about politics and religion, which took me so completely by surprise, I coughed up oatmeal through my nose when I read it. You see, PV (as I sometimes call him; other times, Captain Studpants) does not usually post about such things. Typically he writes about the writing process, discos, and mathematical formulas for insanity.

It was my duty to save him, from himself and from the Politicals and Religionists who routinely troll the Intertubes, looking for troublemakers. And PV (who sometimes goes by the codename "Sexual Viking") fit that description to the letter.

So I wrote a comment on his blog post:
You poor fool! The Politicals and the Religionists have a finger of the pulse of the Intertubes and they will no doubt find out about this screed. Quick! Arm yourself with large-caliber hand and long-range weapons. They will come for you in no time flat. There isn't a moment to waste!!!
Shortly after that, another Intertubes Associate named Katydid* did the same thing, talking about politics and religion on her blog. And this time, she directly named a possible candidate for U.S. Emperor. If PV was a potential troublemaker, they'd likely see Katy as a potential Count Dooku, despite looking nothing like Christopher Lee. I attempted to post a comment on her blog but, due to inexplicable security issues, some involving complex encryption algorithms akin to the movements of distant solar flares, I was unable to do so.

Which, no doubt, begs the question from you, Dear Readers: "Why do you consort with snakes and insects?"

But more importantly: "Did they—your snake and insect compatriots—not know the dangers of discussing politics and religion? Especially on the Intertubes?"

It seems they don't. Or at least, they didn't realize the depth of that danger.

Unlike me, of course. I learned of the power of the Politicals and Religionists nearly twenty years ago. Back then, they trolled the wilds of Usenet, CompuServe, and AOL. I narrowly missed being one of their targets, if not for the swift use of applied esoterica. A throwaway mention of Exo-Man sent them sniffing elsewhere, completely ignoring me.

Saved by Martin Caidin, despite the fact that I didn't care for his Indy-Sky Pirates novel. But Steve Austin had been a good television companion in my youth, so it balanced out.

I later learned from Skinner, my go-to info guy, that Michelangelo (neither the artist nor the turtle) was a product of a Politicals/Religionists strike against its enemies, though why it began in New Zealand is not fully known. (Skinner thinks it was simply to mislead and I tend to agree with him. It helps to agree with Skinner on such things. He is well-entrenched in that sort of knowledge.)

But I saw the panic and destruction that Michelangelo wrought upon the world back then, including LANSpool. And that was only in the early 90s. Given the advancement of computer technology, the Intertubes, and LOLCats, a similar event today would be hugely bad.

Instant Apocalypse.

Consider this a warning, Dear Readers. A dire warning. Quite different from dire wolves, despite also being of dire-ness dire-ity.

And the warning is this: Don't poke the caged Politicals and Religionists.

They bite.

*Names have been changed to protect Pope Innocent.

Come back next week for another entry of The Jericho Files!
Read previous Jericho Files entries here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"The Depravity of Network Television" by Dr. Ace T. Jericho, Rogue Journalist

We were six hours into streaming The Gates via Netflix when "O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana blared from my phone. The cats, who had been sitting quietly by our feet next to the couch, bared teeth, hissed and yowled, ears flattening, eyes going to slits, and batted at the air around them with exposed claws.

I hurried to my desk to answer the damned thing.

"Unforgiveable depraved son of a motherless loon!" I screamed into it. "How dare you interrupt our Netflixing. We were trying to figure out if Devon was a body snatcher when you interfered. Now speak or begone!"

"Or we'll have you boiled in man-boob sweat!" Anne called out from the couch.

"You foul bastard!" said the voice on the other end of the line. "Man-boob sweat is just wrong."

It was my good friend Parker from The Peninsula, who fought deranged computer hackers in command-line steel cage matches by day and fired off large-caliber hand weapons and tromped across online game realms by night. The Peninsula lay across San Francisco Bay, west of The Lair, a mysterious land shrouded in fog. I grew up there, and Parker knew how to survive the wild inhuman places with only a high-powered Dremel and a six-pack of Henry Weinhard's Cream Soda.

"You mutant coelacanth," I replied. "Good to hear from you."

"Who is Devon and why is she a pod person? And is Donald Sutherland involved? Or Leonard Nimoy?"

"We're watching The Gates on Netflix. Rhona Mitra is a vampire again but thankfully, she's sparkle-free. And Prince Edvard of Denmark left Julia Stiles to embrace a blood-drinker's life."

"The Gates?" said Parker. "Urban fantasy in an HOA?"

"That's the one."

"I'll bet Edvard left Julia because she was canoodling with Jason Bourne. Or was it The Joker?"

"But Evard is with Rhona now so that's a plus," I said. "Six eps in and it's pretty good. Shame it got canceled. Damn ABC and the Networks."

"The fate of Firefly and others," said Parker, his voice mournful.

"Network Execs are fools. I made a study of this."

"I remember. Two months, was it?"

"Six," I said. "In depth. By the time it was over I was so disgusted with their practices I nearly gave birth to a Chia Pet. They have no imagination or sense of their audience. Unless your count Bat Boy fans and those people who follow alien anal probe news. Just a bunch of delirious wide-eyed swine with brain parasites. They should be packed into small cages where hyperactive children can poke them with sharp sticks."

"You should just stick with anime," said Parker. "The pinnacle of visual entertainment phantasmagoria."

Parker was a huge anime aficionado. He had a closet full of DVDs and other memorabilia that threatened to burst open and bury smaller men. Willow Ufgood and Tyrion Lannister would not survive such an event, even if Tyrion had seen Wash standing on the roof of an English manor totally starkers and hopped up on acid. But Parker was six feet tall and broad shouldered. He could stave off the deluge with a twitch of the eyebrow. His wife, Mary, had been after him for years to build more storage space for his collection but Parker used most of his workshop time attempting to create a hand-held sun.

Parker was also a flashlight fetishist. But that's another story for another, depraved, soulless evening.

"And speaking of Bat Boy," Parker went on, "he was a chiropteran."

"As a matter of fact, we just finished Blood+."

"Good man," said Parker. "I'll forgive the excursion to network television But anime is the way to go."

"As long as it doesn't involve Matrix Boobs. That was a bit much."

"It was. But a small price to pay."

"Time's a-wasting!" Anne called out.

"Is that Anne?" said Parker. "Tell her I said hello."

I told Anne.

"Call back later!" Anne replied. "We're in the middle of entertainment. He's talked for too long!"

"Damn your timekeeping, Woman!" I shot back, then said to Parker, "I'd better go before she boils me in man-boob sweat. Death may follow."

"Let me know when you'll be heading this way again," he said. "I'll muster the troops and we'll revel in burgers and LAN parties."

Glorious.

Nothing like gluttony and technology.

And no boiled man-boob sweat to worry about.

Come back next week for another entry of The Jericho Files!
Read previous Jericho Files entries here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

"Plan B From Outer Space" by Dr. Ace T. Jericho, Rogue Journalist

I was knee-deep in research material, mainlining Swedish Fish and scenting with a classic bottle of Liquid Paper, when something howled nearby, a bloodcurdling noise that froze me to the short and curlies.

"Sweet Mother of Dingos!" I said, leaping from my desk chair and snatching up the whaling harpoon from the wall. "What poor unfortunate soul is getting a Lovecraftian horrors enema?"

"It's your cellphone," Anne, my Trusty Companion, called out from the couch.

"Can't be," I replied. "It's supposed to play from Carmina Burana, not some whacked-out demented bluegrass death metal."

The howl sounded again. I could feel the noise searing into my brain like a flaming railroad spike through the temples.

I bounded onto my desk, the harpoon held at the ready. "Where are you, you damned white whale?"

"Answer it already," said Anne. "I'm trying to watch my show."

"Show yourself, foul beast!"

"Check under that stack of papers next to your computer."

"Those are Important Notes."

"Check it anyway."

I jammed the harpoon into the stack. It toppled, spilling printouts, scrawled-on notepapers, and a bronze kazoo.

Then my cellphone tumbled out.

"O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana blared from it.

"Ha-HA!" I said, snatching it from the pile of papers.

"Told you," said Anne. "Can I get back to my show now?"

"Return to Robin Hood 90210," I said then keyed the speaker. "Begin your utterances!"

"You're late again, you diseased hamster penis!" said the raspy voice on the other end of the line. "Where's the goddamn article you promised?"

Milton Seth Jones was a right bastard. A savage and obscene man who probably enjoyed being shocked with defibrillator pads applied to his left testicle.

He was also an editor.

My editor. At The Oblivious Plethora.

I loathed him with a visceral hatred akin to a sledgehammer hit to the scrotum.

But a good loathing. A friendly loathing. A loathing accompanied by beer and drunken singing.

"Article?" I said. "What in the name of the wind are you blabbering about, Jonesy?"

"You owe me ten thousand words on the steel cage match between print books and e-books," said Jones.

"Would you settle for a thousand words and four boxes of Swedish Fish?"

"Gadzooks!" Jones replied. "I might at that."

I got down off my desk and grinned to myself. Jones and I were both confectionary aficionados with similar tastes and I knew Swedish Fish was one of his weaknesses.

"Excellent," I said. "I'll send those right on over."

"See that you do," he said. "But that's not the only reason I called. I decided to take you up on your offer and run that John Joseph Adams interview you wrote."

"Sounds good," I said.

"Is it true the two of you are buds?"

"We are," I said. "I serenaded him while he was on jury duty."

"So you can get that interview over to me? It'll be a nice tie-in to the news of his publisher-ship and the merging of Fantasy and Lightspeed."

"Not a problem," I said. "Give me three weeks."

"Ha ha, very funny," said Jones. "You got four days to polish it. Don't be late."

He hung up.

The front door slammed shut.

I turned and saw Anne walking toward me, a folded document in her hand.

"Who was at the door?" I said.

"Process server," Anne said and held up the document. "John Joseph Adams has taken out a restraining order on you."

I gaped at her. "What madness is this?"

"Probably from all those emails you were sending."

"I was attempting to gather information," I said. "Jonesy agreed to run the interview."

"The one you haven't written yet?"

"Exactly."

"You might be shit out of luck. If you'd just sent a couple of emails instead of two hundred, you might be talking to him by now. Oh, and that dead octopus in a box was probably a bad idea."

"It was a Cthulhu Gift Basket!"

"Whatever. You're not allowed within a hundred yards of him. Or Christie Yant."

"By Jove's hairy nutsac!" I said, quickly contemplating my options. It wasn't a lot. In fact, it was next to nil. Or minus-nil.

Then a thought struck.

"I'm gonna have to go with Plan B," I said.

"Oh no," said Anne, horror etched on her face. "Not Plan B."

"Oh yes. Plan B."

"Plan B has something to do with that black and green padded barrel sitting out back, doesn't it."

"It begins there," I said, rubbing my hands together as ideas crept forth from the depths of my brain and gave me goose bumps.

"It'll probably end in tears and wailing," said Anne.

Probably. But that wouldn't stop me.

No sir.

I was a Professional.

Come back next week for another entry of The Jericho Files!
Read previous Jericho Files entries here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Let Me Help Your Christmas Shopping

(Here begins the shameless self-promotion)

One less thing to worry about on your Christmas Shopping/To Do List, right?

Buy them on Kindle and you can gift them. Or purchase a B&N gift card for someone to use and send them the Nook link.

Here's what I got fer ya...

Do you like cyberpunk? Near-future SF? Stories about kick-ass women with guns and swords? Or maybe you know someone who likes these types of stories? Then KAT AND MOUSE, GUNS FOR HIRE is right up their alley. And right now, it's on sale for only $0.99 for your Kindle or Nook

Fancy some urban fantasy instead? Maybe something light to read? A GIRL AND HER DEMON is for you. Just $0.99 for Kindle or Nook.

Want some fun short stories? Want to know what happens when girl scouts attack? Find out in NIGHT OF THE GIRL SCOUTS AND OTHER STORIES, just $0.99 for Kindle or Nook.

And there you have it, folks. Quick and easy Christmas shopping.

(Here ends the shameless self-promotion)


(photo: marciostk/stock.xchng)

Monday, December 5, 2011

"Rumblings From the Dark Side of Twitter" by Dr. Ace T. Jericho, Rogue Journalist

I had just walked in the doors of the Banner Manse last Saturday morning when Marv Banner pulled me aside and flashed his Android phone at me.

"Artoo wants to show you something," he whispered conspiratorially.

"Careful, Marv," I said. "George Lucas has long litigatory arms. If he hears you, probably through your XBox, he's liable to plug up your afterburners with legal action. You may be a city attorney, but you're not as large and intimidating as your namesake. They gave him the chair, remember?"

"Pfeh," said Marv. "Lucas can blow me. Lemme show you my new toy."

I held up the two plastic bags I was still carrying. "The beers need a home or they'll complain in German. Hefeweizens don't like to be kept waiting."

He pointed toward the garage where we would be congregating later. "Fridge on the left."

"Back soon." I made a beeline for the door, passing Marv's wife, Helen, on the way.

"Doctor Jericho," she said with a nod.

"Amazon Queen," I said, also inclining my head.

I went into the garage, packed ten bottles into the fridge, and brought the last two back to where Marv sat on the couch in the living room.

"We have an hour before we dive back into Thunderspire Mountain," he said, taking the proferred bottle and popping the cap. "My toy. Let me show you it."

"Careful with LOLCatSpeak," I said. "I've heard that it will infect your subconscious and drive you mad if you're not paying attention."

"Ceiling Cat sees all," he said and held out the phone.

I started to reach for it, then stopped. "Three Laws compliant?"

"Wouldn't be in this house if it wasn't."

"Good man." I took the phone and looked down at the screen. Colorful icons, miniature photos, and words looked up at me. "What am I looking at?"

"Twitter."

"I can see that," I said. "Why? I know about the Great Social Media Giant."

"Yes," said Marv, "but are you familiar with its dark side?"

"What are you babbling about?"

"Twitter Sith."

I leaned forward. "Have you told anyone?" I said, keeping my voice low.

Marv leaned forward, too. "Just you."

"That's best. If too many people found out, they could swarm the house, smash down the door, and beat the mortal shit out of us with Cabbage Patch dolls soaked in the blood of decapitated My Little Ponies. Your wife and kids would be in danger of being sent to the gulag. And you'd have small fabric body parts jutting from your spleen."

Marv shuddered. "I can't have that."

"I know. Now tell me about the Twitter Sith."

"They roam the edges of the timestream."

I gasped. I had seen them. Dark, shapeless masses, just at the corner of my retweets. Never fully formed. Hovering there in Shymalanian phantasmagoria.

Marv's eyes widened. "You've seen them, too, haven't you!"

"Yes, by Jove's hairy nutsac. I have. Just the other day, as a matter of fact. I thought they might pose a problem but I wasn't sure anyone else had seen them. Thought maybe I was seeing things. That I'd gotten a bad batch of 5 Hour Energy Drinks."

Marv made a face. "Those things'll kill you. Better stay with Monster."

"It was an experiment in warp field manipulation," I said, "but I don't think it worked. I lost a pair of boot socks because of it. But nevermind that. We've got to do something about these beasts before they plunge a sword into the very heart of the global social network."

"Yeah" said Marv. "Otherwise they're liable to infiltrate the entire world psyche. We're already seeing what they've done, you know."

"Stalking," I said. "Everybody's following everybody and some of them you don't even know about. Just watching you from afar with a pair of 10-power Alpen binos. Ten thousand watching eyes. Big Brother's wet dream."

"And Twitter spam," said Marv. "Don't forget that. Asking us to buy penis products. I think they're getting too powerful. Powerful of Dan Brownian magnitudes."

"A single fluke harpoon," I said. "Made of iron. Iron hurts them. Drive them back into depths from whence they came. And with a harpoon you have reach. No need to get too close. But just in case, you'll want a big-bore handgun as backup."

"But how are we supposed to use that on Twitter to get at them?"

"You leave that to me. I'll come up with a cunning plan. And when we save the Twitterverse and Felicia Day from certain destruction, we'll be praised as heroes."

Marv threw both arms into the air, hands clenched into fists. "Yatta!"

"Domo arigato gozaimasu, George Takei," I said and glanced up at the clock hanging over the fireplace.

Forty minutes left until we ventured forth into the realm of polyhedral dice and ability scores.

I took a long pull of beer and a thought struck.

"Something else," I said to Marv.

"Yeah?"

"What's Twitter's dominant image?"

"A whale?"

"Yes, and that's where the harpoon comes in handy. But I mean the primary image?"

"A bird," Marv said and went saucer-eyed. "Do you mean--!" He made a gagging sound. "Shades of the Fat British Man with the Speech Impediment--!!"

I nodded slowly and drank more beer. "That's right, Sonny Jim. Bodega Bay was just the start."

Come back next week for another entry of The Jericho Files!

Read previous Jericho Files entries here.