Frighten is now available!

Frighten is now available!

Lauren’s time in San Francisco hasn’t gone as planned. After reconnecting with her brother Billy and discovering that vampires are at the heart of the murders in the foggy city, Lauren is faced with a terrible decision that will affect her career. Can she find a way to bring the killers to justice? Will she be able to find the Stranger in time to stop the nightmares in San Francisco?

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Lauren’s pursuit of the Stranger has led to Las Vegas. A series of supernatural murders leads the team to believe that warlocks are behind the deaths. The return of an old ally and a new threat complicates Lauren’s investigation. Can she stop what’s coming in time to avert the apocalypse?

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Re-release: The Little Artisan

Re-release: The Little Artisan

Synopsis: Not all fairy tales involve young princesses waiting to be swept off their feet by a prince. Some heroines want to change the world. Camille has watched her village, and the surrounding area, slowly wilt from years of unrelenting sun and no rain. Mein was once a land filled with magic and dense forests filled with fantastical creatures. Now, it suffers in silence. Camille believes that she can change their fate by creating a machine to make it rain once more. However, the village is suspicious of her efforts, concerned that her deep love of science will anger the magicks that once protected them. She will have to learn to stand tall and believe in herself if the world is to ever change.

 

An excerpt from The Little Artisan:

She paused in front of the entrance; her heart fluttered and her stomach churned. So close. All of the trials and tinkering and prototypes would soon be put to the test.

Taking a deep breath, she pushed aside the curtain and stepped inside. It was bigger on the inside than it appeared from the outside. Mirrors covered all of the walls, which converged on a single hallway leading deeper into the tent.

Camille headed down the hallway. Its walls were also covered with mirrors, creating a maze of kaleidoscope images. She proceeded forward slowly, restraining her impulse to run.

A voice emerged from farther ahead.

“Maker. Artisan. Tinker. Why have you come?”

“For the final piece.”

“The final piece to what?”

“To my Rainmaker.”

Peeling laughter filled the hallway.

“You continue on this fool’s errand even though everyone doubts you,” called the Trickster.

Camille paused.

She didn’t give much thought to what others thought. Occasionally, she would consider how the townspeople might react if the Rainmaker worked; otherwise, she only felt sad when she thought about the people of Mein because they were too frightened to try anything, to take real chances.

“I can make a difference,” she responded.

“Why would you wish to make a difference when no one else will care?” boomed a voice that suggested a large being.

Camille couldn’t even comprehend such a position. She didn’t require others to validate who she was; she did what she thought was necessary. “I have no need of riddles, questions, or condemnations. I only need the final piece. I only need fuel.”

“Fuel?” parroted the Trickster.

Camille noticed a small shadow at the corner of the hallway. Creeping close, she found a small knob attached to a long, thin mirror. She pushed it and the mirror creaked and receded, revealing yet another hallway.

The hallway was unlit except for a faint light at the end. She stumbled forward, feeling the walls to stay upright. Camille turned as the door she came through closed; she could no longer hear the sounds outside the tent. She pushed on through the darkness until the hallway terminated in an open room with a tall chair at its center.  A small figure with sandy red hair and a thick beard sat atop it.

“You’re the Trickster?” asked Camille.

The Trickster hopped down, revealing that he was nearly a head shorter than the little artisan. A jagged scar ran from his nose to his chin, giving him a suspicious look despite his otherwise handsome features and green eyes. “I see that you’ve seen past my mirrors, little artisan.”

Camille didn’t like it when people other than her father called her little artisan. “Do you have fuel?”

He shoved his stubby hands into his pockets. “I do indeed. What do you plan on doing with it?”

Frustration itched at her. “I need it for the Rainmaker.”

“Ah, for your weather machine.”

She looked around the small room and saw a cot nestled next to shelves upon shelves of books. “You live here?”

“Our sleepy little village wouldn’t suffer an imp, so I hide behind my mirrors.”

She felt a stab of sympathy for the little man.

“I’m sorry that you must hide who you are.”

The Trickster shrugged. “We all hide a part of who we are. Some must be more cautious than others.”

Camille walked to the bookcase and touched the spines.

“I don’t hide who I am.”

“I suppose that is why we fear you.”

She turned around, surprised. “Fear me?”

He nodded and paced to a long desk with open books stacked on it. “Knowing oneself is a hardship. It forces us to face parts of ourselves we may not like, so we hide behind our fear. Someone who doesn’t hide like we do is certainly to be feared.”

The little artisan looked down sadly.

“That must be difficult.”

“Ignorance proves to be fantastic insulation,” replied the Trickster. Pushing aside some books, he procured a waxen cube and held it up to the light. “I believe I have what you’re looking for….”

Camille crossed the room and looked at the small cube.

“I don’t have much to give you.”

He closed his hand, obscuring the fuel cube from view.

“I ask that you don’t allow our fear to stop you.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I sell hope, and possibility. I wish for the world to be different; yet, I do nothing.”

Camille found his strange self-awareness disarming.

What was he playing at?

The Trickster extended his hand and placed the fuel cube in Camille’s hands. He smirked. “I expect to hear rumbling very soon.”

 

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Re-release: Dawn

Re-release: Dawn

Synopsis: The world is divided between a nation of men and a nation women, each of whom rules with absolute authority. A war brews deep beneath the surface of the peaceful negotiations between these two nations as a love blossoms between a princess and her guardian, a slave of the Society of Dawn, in the first entry of this romantic fantasy series.

 

An excerpt from Dawn:

Aurora had never journeyed so far alone. In the six years that Aeschylus served as her guardian, she left Pa’ngarin no more than a handful of times. She touched her saddle horn and rubbed the pearl there delicately.

She thought about the day Aeschylus was chosen as her guardian. It was her twelfth birthday, a milestone among maidens and Children of the Dawn. Her aunt, the Lordess Ascendant, the beautiful and powerful ruler of Pa’ngarin, picked Aeschylus for Aurora from among the horde of unseasoned and dirty men who worked the mines and fields.

Her aunt’s words were soft that day.

Soft speech wasn’t Lordess Ascendant’s way. However, on the day when Aurora was presented before the Court of the Nine Blossoms, she spoke in hurried, loving words. She told the young maiden that this man was the strongest among the bloodthirsty and hate-mongering species of men.

He would protect her until his death.

Her new guardian would be her steadfast companion for as long as she saw fit. He would see to all her needs; and if she required, be her First––marking her ascendance.

Aurora smiled as she remembered young Aeschylus. He was already a man when he was appointed as her guardian. Strong-jawed and tight-lipped, he was a cordial, but removed, warrior just a moon past his eighteenth birthday.

At the time, she didn’t know that Aeschylus followed her around long before he became her guardian. His mother died in the same Scythian raid that killed her mother when she was an infant. Every time young Aurora wandered without supervision, Aeschylus wasn’t far away.

But his assistance had a price.

When he was only thirteen, he carried Aurora from the orchards after she fell down and injured her foot. It was against Pa’ngarin law for a man to touch a woman without consent, especially to treat her as if she were powerless to help herself. His act of compassion earned him ten lashes at the center of the Court of the Nine Blossoms. After that incident, he became more careful, making certain to remain hidden from view as he protected her.

Aurora shook herself from her reverie.

Along the side of the road sat a heavy black stone etched in sparkling silver lettering. The letters read Ma’oren.

Ma’oren was a rich town built around mining and forestry operations and run by a minor ascendant named Eris. Aurora couldn’t remember having met her.

Rows of tall trees obscured her vision to the north and south, but she had little fear in her heart despite the circumstances of the previous evening. The silence enveloping the surrounding forest would’ve been disarming if Aurora didn’t know that mining drove the creatures of the forest deeper into the woods. There were few dangers to a woman of her station in a society governed by women. If she were attacked and kidnapped by brigands, they would swing in the Court of the Nine Blossoms.

The trees lining the road soon gave way to cramped male dormitories built upon each other like sloping cliffs. The buildings had no windows except for a wide opening on the second floor.

A man stepped out of one of the dormitories’ slanted doors. His long gray hair was pulled back into a tight ponytail and his brown eyes, wide and wise, watched the young maiden pass. He didn’t meet her eyes, but instead stared intently at her mount. He knew the penalty for looking at a woman, if not asked to do so, was the sealing of the eyes.

Opposite the dormitories stood a vast cavern dug deep into the earth, beside which sprawling mining equipment was placed. A piercing whine filtered from the mine’s entrance, as if a whistle were being blown deep below. Aurora spurred her mount forward through the haze of dirt and dust spewing from the mine and made her way up the road toward the city proper.

As if by magic, the haze disappeared and a gleaming citadel rose in the distance. A dawn sphere was a great, ribbed structure composed of symmetrical, ivory pillars from ground to sky.

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Re-release: Drained

Re-release: Drained

Synopsis: A frightening new case. A mysterious journal. The beginning of the end. Lauren Westlake has left behind the horrors of northern Minnesota to investigate a strange package with a cryptic return address. Crossing the country to the city by the bay, Lauren discovers that Locke was only the beginning. Crossing paths with a stoic SFPD detective and a surprise from her past, she must figure out what hunts the foggy streets of San Francisco in this new novella. Is it vampires? Is it something more?

 

An excerpt from Drained:

THE OVERPASS that separated the yuppie, hipster youth of the city from its poorer denizens was indistinguishable from any other place in the city.

Benny squatted under the comfort of his concrete shelter to avoid the light drizzle that replaced the evening fog. His grizzled features and unkempt salt-and-pepper hair might be charming if he weren’t several shades of crazy and hungrier than a feral cat. He remembered when he could wink and say a few smooth words and a beaming waitress might swoon––regaling her with stories about his gigs around the city and the promise of a little danger.

In the late 70s Benny fancied himself a musician, playing the tall bass with a few friends; it was tough for Benny to think of them as friends now. What passed for a friend on the streets was someone who wouldn’t steal your blankets or chase you out of a rat-infested hole with a taped-together shiv made from broken bottles and pieces of fenders from stalled-out cars.

The 70s hadn’t been kind to Benny. Cocaine went from recreation to lifestyle, and then to death-style. As his other bandmates started lives, Benny spiraled deeper into despair.

His friends lost his number.

It wasn’t long before he didn’t have the money for electricity, and then he lived his life in darkness. From there, it was a short hop to not being able to pay rent; soon thereafter, the streets became his home. After enough time wandering the cold pavement, he became too volatile to bunk in the homeless shelters.

He was a creature of the streets.

Benny made a strange sort of existence for himself under the overpass. Newspapers were arranged like a well-manicured lawn. Boxes, crushed and water-damaged, were the wings of his great destitute estate. The barrel at the center of it all, burning brightly like a lighthouse upon rocky shores, was full of the wisdom of Western society: newspapers, magazines, and various novels.

Grumbling angrily and unintelligibly to himself, Benny dug through one of his grocery carts filled to the brim with postmodern junk; he was looking for a broken umbrella amidst the sea of garbage and treasure within his cart. As Benny extricated the battered object of his desire, he was startled by a voice. “I do enjoy these brief moments of gentle rain. Do you find them as soothing as I do?”

Turning, Benny was immediately irritated by the man’s presence. Dressed to the nines––with angular, symmetrical features––there was something unreal about his figure.

“I don’t want no trouble.”

The man smiled. “Nor do I. But I wonder, Benny, what is it that you’re looking for?”

Benny looked at the streets and saw cars zip past between the concrete dividers that obscured his shelter from view. It was the main reason why he stayed there: it was his island, his cabin in the woods.

“Mister, I’m hungry. Do you have any food?”

The man smiled again, disarmingly. “I must admit I’m a bit peckish myself. Though I have no food, at least nothing that you’d find satisfying, Benny.”

Benny was struck by the disconnected nature of their conversation, as if the man weren’t talking to him at all and instead reading from a script. This feeling became more surreal as the man stepped past him into the darkness of the overpass. His features were adulterated by the shadows there: his dark hair made darker, his gray eyes disappearing.

There, in the darkness, Benny heard something move.

“Watch out, mister, there are rats back there. I catch them sometimes and cook them up.”

The man chuckled but didn’t respond, turning his back to Benny. When he spoke again, his voice had changed; it seemed bloated and distant. “They never look for the wretches, Benny. Give me your poor. Give me your hungry. Those are just words. I’m hungry as well….”

The sound came again.

There was no mistaking it for a rat this time.

It was bigger.

Hollow, deliberate steps haunted the shadows.

A tremor crept across Benny, rising from his toes like acid reflux after he ate from the dumpster behind the Korean restaurant a few blocks away. “I don’t want no trouble,” repeated Benny, his voice quaking as he took a few steps back.

“You won’t have to worry about trouble any longer. I will take your fear. Feed on your fear….”

Benny thought to run.

Panic gripped him, but his muscles wouldn’t respond. He wondered if the lady doctor at the center was right: Was he crazy? Was he chasing shadows in the dark?

Looking at his bin of junk, he saw the broken pipe he’d taken from a rundown building in the Tenderloin. He thought it was copper, but it turned out to be rusted and useless like him. Gripping it like he was Babe Ruth waiting at the plate, he watched the darkness. The well-dressed man had disappeared, but his voice drifted on the air like a spirit.

“Why fight it, Benny? Is this really worth living for, this sad little life?”

Benny’s fear turned to anger.

Gesturing with the pipe, he shouted into the dark.

“How do you know my name?”

The laugh sent shivers down his spine.

Something in the darkness tripped and fell, collapsing the third and fourth cardboard bedrooms of his sprawling street estate. A figure emerged in the darkness: something frightening beyond words.

“We know all about you, Benny.”

As it took shape in the half-light of the passing cars, Benny held his breath and swung the pipe as hard as he could, lurching forward as it connected with thin air. With a gnashing maw, it blotted Benny from view and pulled him back into the darkness.

 

If you loved Bitten (or supernatural fiction, a good mystery, and a fun story), then you’ll want to give Drained a look. The third novella in the series, Frighten, will be released in early 2019.

Get it today on Kindle!

Re-release: Bitten

Re-release: Bitten

Synopsis: A predator stalks a cold northern Minnesotan town. There is talk of wolves walking on two legs and attacking people in the deep woods. Lauren Westlake, resourceful and determined FBI agent, has found a connection between the strange murders in the north and a case file almost a hundred years old. Traveling to the cold north, she begins an investigation that spirals deep into the darkness of mythology and nightmares. Filled with creatures of the night and an ancient romance, the revelation of who hunts beneath the moon is more grisly than anyone could imagine.

 

What readers are saying about Bitten:

“Bitten is an extremely well-balanced and engaging novel. It contains mystery, suspense, horror, romance, and best of all – a creative, genre-bending twist on werewolf mythology. The story is quick-paced and dark without being too heavy or overdramatic. The protagonist is a strong and courageous FBI agent who is able to assert herself without casting aside her femininity. She reminds me of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone and Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum…. If a sequel follows, I will definitely read it.”

“Author Dan O’Brien left his mark with Bitten. I’ve now read three books by O’Brien, but BITTEN is by far my favorite. It not only showcases his literary skills, but leaves the reader wanting more. What else could an avid reader ask for?”

 

An excerpt from Bitten:

THE CREATURE crashed into the sides of its space. Tearing broken, rusted objects from the shelves, it threw them to the ground in angry fits of rage. Tears streamed down its face and the guttural whimper that echoed in the oversized shed was the only shred of humanity that remained.

With each mashed piece of its life, it plunged deeper into madness; closer to the monster it was slowly becoming. The light of the day had all but faded. Reaching out and grasping a light bulb that hung dimly at the center of the shed, it crushed it, allowing the shards to rip apart its hands.

Blood dripped on the work table and the partial husk of Wayne Joyce’s mutilated face. It had stretched out the flesh, drying it and coating it with deer oil. Its cries were crocodile tears; there was no emotion left except rage, hatred. Remorse and guilt long since disappearing into the abyss that was its mind.

The winds howled.

It responded.

Black thread, spooled with a sharp needle, sat beside the human mask. It reached down with one of its mangled hands, lifting the needle and then the flesh. Pressing against its skin, it drove the needle into its own face, drawing blood and an angry snarl. Each time through, there was a growl and a pool of blood. The task was complete: the flesh attached to the monster.

Little folds lifted from its face. The wind whipped against them, drawing its attention. Reaching out to a staple gun, it pressed it against its face. The creature drove thick steel staples into its face, flattening out the macabre mask.

The table was a massacre.

Leftover pieces of the trophies it took were lifeless artifacts of its ascension to death-bringer. Reaching out for the long claw of torture it wore as a glove, the creature groaned. Language was lost. More and more, it felt like an animal, a creature meant to destroy everything.

The rage built like steam. It coursed through its veins, polluting every aspect of humanity that remained. The moon would rise soon––full and omniscient. That would be the moment of its ascension.

It would be its masterpiece.

 

If you love supernatural fiction, a good mystery, and a fun story, then you’ll want to give Bitten a look. Releasing in July as well is the follow-up novella, Drained. The third novella in the series, Frighten, will be released in early 2019.

Get it today on Kindle!

Preview of Sixth Prime

Purchase the book by clicking on the cover above. I’ve decided to release an unedited preview (for copyright purposes) of the first novel in my new series for your enjoyment. Please comment, share, and follow.

 

The Curious Case of Ale Euclid

Canvases lined the walls. Smudged and erratic strokes revealed a quiet genius encumbered by a great sadness. The open space in which the somber artist brooded appeared larger than it was. Ale Euclid suffered from a tendency to check out from his surroundings, imbuing his personal experiences with a special kind of significance felt only by those who wrote the story of their lives with broad strokes of emotional connection.

Outside the darkness of the light-filled metropolis ebbed and flowed like the lapping shores of the island on which it sprawled. The bustling world around him not only satisfied the collectivistic yearning of his gregariousness, but also allowed him to disappear from the crowd behind closed doors, playing to the reserved sensibilities of an artist in the midst of a storm of conflicting and contrasting ideals. Ale had few friends except for a small circle of fellow painters and artists who populated the Inked District of the remote island of Nyan, the largest of the Tranquil Isles.

Euclid placed a special emphasis on the aesthetics and ambiance of his surroundings, which made island life amidst the peaceful, harmonious culture of Nyan the ideal backdrop for his inspiration.

The outer door of his loft beeped rhythmically, a sliver of light infecting the purposeful darkness of his studio. Ale did not move, instead remaining motionless. His gaze was intently fixed on an almost-finished piece he called Constancy, a magnificent representation of the universe reduced to darkness and light battling toward an inevitable end.

Yet, it remained unfinished.

Footsteps crossed the room, approaching the disheveled figure with a splattered brush in hand. “Ale? Are you not ready?”

Ale thought of himself as a quiet, friendly, sensitive, and kind friend. He tried to enjoy the present moment, paying special attention to the joy around him. However, he went to great lengths to carve out his own place, an undisturbed mental and physical space where his art could take form. The intrusion, though expected, made him prickle slightly in irritation.

“Mian, you’re early.” He continued to look at his work.

Long and thin like Ale, Mian had gorgeous dark hair that she pulled back into a tight, attractive bun, framing her symmetrical features. The musculature of her legs rippled beneath her thin dress as she shifted her weight from one leg to another. “They are already setting up. Some potential buyers have started to trickle in.”

He sighed. Ale desired only for space and time, much like all of the celestial beings decaying on a molecular level throughout the universe. However, he had made a commitment to Mian, and to the rich of the Inked District, to display his artwork so it could be probed and critiqued, purchased and traded.

“I don’t wish to argue, Mian.”

“You’ll find no argument from me, Ale.” She stepped closer to Constancy and pressed a hand to her chest. “This is so evocative. It makes me feel so alone, yet embraced by it.”

Ale stepped forward and applied a single stroke at the center of the canvas, a brush of crimson in the swirling darkness. With a sigh, he stepped away from the painting and pulled a burgundy jacket from a skeletal chair tagged with splotches of color. “This is the last one. We can be social now.”

Mian smiled and grabbed the edges of the painting carefully.

Ale placed a hand on hers. “Not this one.”

She looked at him. “Then why did we wait for you to finish it?”

He walked ahead of her. “I didn’t say it was finished.”

 

THE AEROPOSTLE GALLERY was lit in such a way that every imperfection would be revealed; as such, the women in attendance painted away their flaws, so their masks of make-up would appear unbroken beneath the harsh luminance. Harsh and bright in places, it also cast shadows where the lighting was less concentrated, less intense.

Ale held the door open for Mian.

Mian nodded, her features tight as she did so.

Whitewashed features marred by campy paint identified the elite of Nyan, those who would be willing to part with resources for art as a means of solidifying their place in the hierarchy. Some clapped as Euclid entered; others raised a sparkling drink that cost more than the wages of four helium miners on the many moons of Sedecim.

Ale dipped his head.

He moved through the crowd, shaking hands and making small talk, mostly about the state of art in the Inked District and his future projects. Euclid had begun to make a name for himself in Nyan; there was talk he would receive a special commission from the Commonwealth. He avoided talk of the simmering conflict between the Commonwealth and the Sovereignty.

As he gestured toward a gargantuan canvas that depicted a range of colors in an orderly and algorithmic fashion, something caught his attention out of the corner of his eye. Red eyes, flittering in and out of focus, watched him from the shadows.

It gave him pause.

His mouth open, Ale stared back at the red eyes, not realizing he had stopped mid-sentence in his explanation until one of the waxen elite of Nyan cleared his throat.

“Pardon me, where was I?” asked Ale.

A man with a well-oiled mustache and a single line of azure hair traced back over old skin looked at Ale with dull brown eyes before speaking. The hard syllables of his speech were hindered by his uneven teeth. “This painting. Why is it so organized? Is art no meant to convey the liberation and lack of inhibition of the soul?”

Ale dreaded this part of being an artist, pontificating at length about his process. In many ways, it was his worst nightmare: having to listen to rude people criticize his personal choices, as well as his art, for prolonged periods of time. None of them seemed to understand how connected he was to his work.

“Art is expression, but expression need not be disorganized. I find my inspiration in the orderliness of the universe.”

Another movement caught his attention from the shadows. A long coat dusted the edges of the darkness, making a kaleidoscope of fractals similar to rubbing one’s eyes too hard.

Another clearing of the throat: this time from the angular and painted clown that hung on the man’s arm. “I find this piece so…dull. Don’t you, honey?” she said, batting her absurdly large fake eyelashes as if to accent her ignorance.

Ale collected himself, not wishing to create conflict despite her snide attitude. “It is meant to be simple; dull might be a consequence for people who lack a certain kind of imagination when they try to experience the work.”

The man snorted and the woman moved on, her attention drawn to an aesthetically pleasing member of the wait-staff with pants that were far too tight. Ale smiled weakly as they moved on, and Mian moved in close, handing him a stout glass of amber-colored liquid.

“You should have brought down the unfinished painting. I think even this crowd would have appreciated the surrealism of it.”

Ale nodded, but remained quiet, contemplative.

He continued to stare into the darkness of the room’s corner, past the crowds of wealthy huddled around splattered paint upon canvas. Part of him knew that the Constancy piece was something different. It was not so much that he had painted the Void, but more that something compelled him to create the abstraction. While Mian saw randomness and surrealism, Ale felt different.

Order prevailed.

 

THE CROWD HAD DISPERSED and the night waned before Ale retired to his loft. Mian offered to keep him company, the insinuation not lost on him. He declined, content to sit before the painting, gazing into the Void.

Sitting there before his latest (and possibly greatest) creation, he realized that for the first time in his life he felt a connection to something he had created. Too often, he viewed his work as derivative and insufficient to sustain a livelihood. This, of course, was more the result of a deflated sense of self than the reality of his bank account; his paintings sold for some of the highest prices on the entire planet of Tertius.

Nyan bustled just beyond his window, but the loft remained whisper-quiet. Ale stood and approached the painting, touching the darkness at the center. A strange sensation overwhelmed him, a familiarity that he had felt once before in his life.

As if in a trance, he walked toward the double glass doors that led to the balcony that overlooked the city. A warm wind caressed his face as he ran his fingers over a small table to his right. Taking a deep breath, he gripped the balcony and slipped into introspection. Ale saw art as compassion, and an exercise in mindfulness. A peaceful being at heart, he lacked the conviction to be an activist; yet, he saw mindfulness as the means to live a more compassionate and loving life.

Looking up into the night sky, observing his relative insignificance in the context of the universe, Ale felt a connection to the great abyss spread out before him. It was not a theology per se, but rather a sense of interconnectedness that transcended the biology of his existence. Ale only considered himself close to a few people, most of those related by blood had been causalities of the conflict between the Commonwealth and the Sovereignty; those who had not been taken in battle had been consumed by the violence and difficulty of the blocs of Tertius.

When Ale looked into the vast consciousness of time and space, he felt alone yet connected to his fellow interstellar travelers. When he listened deeply to the cosmos, he could feel the suffering and the cries of those who desired compassion in the face of such horror; this was his way of doing good in the world, he listened despite the sadness it brought him.

A few sirens wailed in the distance filling the tranquil and prosperous streets of Nyan with discord; its well-manicured parks and ecological preserves spoke of an environmental awareness hidden behind an ego that desperately wished to be noticed for its efforts. Ale despised their superficiality, the falseness with which they showed their care for the sentient creatures of the planet when so much of Tertius was covered in mega-blocs, vast pollution-filled slums where the wealthy and personally unaccountable placed the poor and unwanted under the guise of enlightened welfare.

This exact point of contention drove a galactic conflict between warring ideologies, a question of whether the rich and powerful had the right to impose political freedom in a particular way; one side  saw freedom through an aggressive capitalism, while the other saw it in a robust social state.

Ale sighed, irritation creeping across his arm like thousands of small insects just beneath his skin. He couldn’t understand such a radical need for others to define personal freedom; it was in each and every moment, in everyday mindfulness of why people made decisions.

With a sigh, he walked back inside and across the loft, and then behind a partitioned area complete with a bathtub and a sink. Ale tapped a mirror just above the sink. It fragmented into millions of individual pixels. He pressed his fingers against them and they dissipated revealing a cabinet.

A small dark box beckoned him.

Disappearing into himself was as much a part of him as his art; reaching out, he grasped the box. Ale turned it over in his hands, thinking about the painting and wondering whether he wished to make the journey that awaited him within the container.

Ale opened the box, revealing a small stack of wafer-sized sheets. Touching his index finger to the top of the pile, he exhaled. The slightest of touches activated the cocktail of hallucinogens imbued in the slip. His hand began to shake, addiction and anticipation stealing his autonomy.

Closing his eyes, he wiped his finger against the stack, taking a single sheet with it. Ale licked his lips and then placed the slip under his tongue and closed his mouth with a moan. He knew from experience that he only had about twenty minutes until the Euphorium took effect.

He felt the exquisite warmth as it dissolved.

Leaving the makeshift washroom, he took a few short steps and plopped down onto a comfortable chair he had purchased for this precise occasion. It articulated at the base, turning him so that he could see the series of unfinished canvases that depicted various stages of a mathematical void, layers of darkness that brimmed with a divine kind of logic.

Time slowed, and each breath felt like it would last forever. Ale felt his somberness sink into a vast ocean of despair; the moment before already felt like a lifetime ago. Euclid had taken this trip enough times, even in a desperate state, to know that unpredictability was the name of the game. He chose to embrace the exploration of the darkness in his unfinished work, the algorithm that called out to him.

A word filled his mind: constant.

The Constant.

Religion did not appeal to Ale. Insight into the universe that could only be afforded by the Euphorium was what he sought. Awareness at the expense of vivid hallucinations was a fair trade.

The paintings changed; darkness became geometric shapes that pulled from the canvases and danced through the air. The walls breathed and the colors sung, joining the blackness in front of Euclid. He could smell the center of the universe; it reeked of sulfur and bile.

Ale Euclid disappeared and become one with the ego of the universe, with the being called The Great Darkness That Came Before. The room disappeared and became only the vast cosmic canvas on which all of life and darkness and nothingness was painted. It was here that the real painter existed, the true artist.

Form became figure, a vast mass that pulsed and slumbered.

The ego called Ale drifted into the bulkhead of the cosmos.

 

HOURS PASSED AND THE DRUG-FUELED journey subsided; Ale returned. Sitting there in his chair, he felt the lethargy in his limbs. They felt heavy. His mind crawled slowly. Turning his head, he peered around his loft.

A figure stood stoic.

Ale smiled. It felt strange on his face. “Hello?”

The figure remained impassive.

“Who’s there?” Ale placed his feet on the ground, and immediately recoiled. Cold spikes jabbed him; his legs had fallen asleep. Gripping the cushion rests, Ale pushed himself into a more rigid seated posture. He squinted his eyes as he tried to make out his mysterious visitor.

Licking his lips, he moved around his tongue, trying to generate some saliva. His voice was hoarse as he spoke again. “What do you want?”

The figure moved quickly then. Bridging the distance between them, he grabbed Ale by the shirt and lifted him into the air with ease. Euclid reached his hands out weakly, grasping and struggling, but to no avail.

The dark-garbed assailant threw Ale across the room.

The artist’s wrist shattered as he collided with the floor. He felt his stomach tighten and he vomited in his mouth as he tried to push himself up with his uninjured hand.

The dark-garbed shadow picked up the artist again and struck him across the face.

Ale felt his teeth clatter in his mouth. His mind swam as he sailed through the air and crashed through the partition to his washroom, splintering the divider into thousands of metallic pieces that spread across the ground like grains of rice.

Ale tried to stand, the pain in his face and hand making the numbness in his legs dissipate. Using his good hand he managed to raise himself up to a seated position against the tub. The assailant grabbed Ale’s good hand and bent his fingers back, breaking them easily.

Euclid screamed away whatever euphoria lingered. His screams became whimpers as the assailant crouched beside him. “Take anything you want.” Ale tried desperately to flex his hands.

Up close, Euclid saw that his attacker wore black wrappings that hid any distinguishing features. He reached out with his useless hands to touch the wrappings, but the shadow batted them away with one hand and used the other to grab the back of Ale’s head and slam it against the tub.

Euclid’s head bobbed as he dribbled blood and teeth. He groaned as the assassin lifted him once more and turned toward the large bay windows that reflected the skyline of Nyan.

With a grunt, the assassin threw Euclid toward the window.

Ale landed hard, feeling his ribs break beneath his fall.

Looking across the floor of his loft, he saw another figure. It looked familiar; a long cloak dusted the hardwood floors. Red eyes watched from the darkness. Ale reached out, his broken fingers unable to respond to his wishes.

The assassin lifted Ale for the last time.

Euclid saw the figure take shape as he felt the cool air of the night and the small pebbles of the protective glass break around his back. Staring up into the sky, he closed his eyes and embraced what came next.

Fifteen remained.

 

You can purchase Sixth Prime at:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01ENLPOVG

On Strong Female Characters, Face-less Heroes, and Myriad Personalities

Sixth Prime

When I started writing Sixth Prime, I decided early on to do something very deliberate: I would make half the main characters women; I would make sure the personalities better reflected the myriad of the human experience; and I would describe characters without using skin color or any physical identifiers.

You might be wondering: what exactly is the point of that?

Women represent half the population

I would be remiss if I ignored the statistics right in front of me. More than half of the world’s population is female, so why wouldn’t I include a representative number of female characters? I’m talking about adventurers and villains, scientists and soldiers, and everything in between. The goal should be to tell the best possible story. I waited until I had outlined everything, and then randomly assigned characters as men and women (this includes romantic relationships as well, so buckle your seatbelts).

Personality guides behavior and decision-making.

I went to graduate school for psychology, and as such I’ve always had a fascination with why people do what they do. This, naturally, translated into thinking about how I could smuggle personality psychology into a narrative. The Prime saga, beginning with Sixth Prime, is an attempt to do just that. I wanted readers to feel like they were represented by one of the characters in such a way that the decisions and consequences felt more real to them.

The reader should decide how the characters look.  

I know it’s a long shot, but maybe (just maybe) the Prime Saga becomes a movie or limited series. I bring this up because nothing is worse than people arguing how characters should look or the kinds of actors or actresses who should play them. Really, even if an adaptation is not in order, I love the idea of people coming to their own conclusions about how a character should look based on their choices, personality, and behavior. I want the characters to be defined by how they make readers feel; I want a reader to be able to see themselves in the character and as the character.

 

Here is the working teaser:

2.3.5.7.11.13.

A war brews as a galaxy struggles to maintain a peace treaty signed in haste. The Commonwealth boasts sprawling cities built upon slums. The Sovereignty has placed the yoke of industry upon its citizens. Sixteen men and women are connected in a way they cannot yet understand. A murder of a prominent artist begins a chain of events that will ultimately determine the fate of the universe.

Only thirteen will remain.

In the end, there can be only one Prime.

Are you a Prime?

 

Interested yet? I sure hope so. If you are, then how about a brief excerpt? Check it out at: https://authordanobrien.com/2016/07/28/preview-of-sixth-prime/

Perhaps you want to grab the Kindle version for only $2.99? http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01ENLPOVG