Enjoy this snippet from my newest release, a sci-fi thriller with bite--Hibernaculum.
Cross sized up his clients with one glance. The guy, lanky as an uprooted beanstalk, stepped carefully over cracked cement. The girl strode in the lead, each step harsh and vainglorious.
Not one of those. Nothing worse than an arrogant female in the Wild.
She would pretend the bugs and snakes didn’t bother her, but eventually Cross would have to make a daring rescue when stubbornness put her over the edge. He’d been through it before.
Life inside the Dome was idyllic, but always a few young, bored rich needed to test themselves in the Wild. It was illegal, of course, so Cross could charge exorbitant fees. But his price was worth it. He was the only Coyote who guaranteed a face to face confrontation with a Hibernaculum.
“We’re here,” said the woman.
“Yes,” said Cross, “and now all the custodians know it too.”
“Keep your voice down, Mindy,” said the man.
“Sorry,” Mindy said, just as loud.
Cross turned away without a word. Best to get clear of the Dome before making introductions. He walked into a wall of debris stacked like a barricade.
“Wait!” shrilled Mindy. “Where did you go?” Cross didn’t wait. They would find the hidden crack in the barricade or they could go home. It was a test. He promised to lead them into the Wild, but he could only do so much. After a moment, he heard them stumbling over the litter. Someone kicked a bit of metal and it clanged like a drunken bell. The couple bickered and made enough noise to alert custodians and grimalkin.
It would serve them right. Stupid oafs.
But then, of course, he wouldn’t make his payment.
He stopped in the shadow of an old eighteen-wheeler. Its tires were gone and the van slowly rusted into the ground. A faded red “W” could still be seen on the metal side.
“Wow!” said Mindy, as they caught up. “Is that a car?”
“A truck,” said the man. “It’s a little known fact that once, these beasts roamed the countryside. They were fearsome killers. Six thousand deaths a year were blamed on trucks. And they were the cause of much pollution besides. My name’s Alex and this is my wife, Mindy.” He held out a hand, palm up in greeting. Cross stared at him until he withdrew it. Time for the spiel.
“Look behind you,” he said. The couple turned. The Dome loomed like a bubble rising from the wasteland. The enviro-shield shimmered green and gold in the sunlight, obscuring busy lives inside. A beautiful sight, until you realized it was the last breath of a dying man.
“That’s the last view you’ll have of home. If you want to change your minds, now’s the time. Once we leave here, I’m not turning back. Got it?” Alex and Mindy nodded. “Good. From now on, you do as I say. You step where I step. You touch only what I touch.”
“Are we going to see some Wild creatures?” asked Alex.
“Only if we’re unlucky.” Cross opened the rusted van door and took out three packs.
“But this is a safari. We’re supposed to see creatures. I brought my Touch to record it.”
“I promised you a Hibernaculum,” said Cross. “The rest is all bonus.”