Running Tangent

There is a new story up at Perihelion – Running Tangent – a 10,000-word collaboration with my writing partner, Dale Ivan Smith. We’re both very pleased with the results and with the swell job Sam Bellotto Jr.. the editor, did on presentation.

Running Tangent is – Sam’s words here – “a fast-moving, absorbing adventure tale involving AIs gone awry, human/ape hybrids that can’t be trusted, and a strong female protagonist who makes most male space heroes look like sissies.”

Here’s a little taste:

The ape was waiting for me. So were his friends; a second ape and a digger, one of the wiry human-terrier mixes who mined the moons and rings of Saturn. Both apes were almost naked. The digger had tricked himself up all in black leather.

“Hey there, Kex,” the ape said.

“What have you got for me?” I asked.

The ape curled his lip, showing off big, yellowed fangs. “A swell surprise,” he said. “One you ain’t gonna like.”

The second ape laughed; deep and guttural and nasty. The digger drew his own lips back and growled. Four years in the Belter Marines taught me you didn’t wait. I threw myself at the digger, drawing weapons as I moved. The mutt was fast, I’ll give him that, but not faster than my backhand.

The slug-thrower I’d drawn smashed into his skull, just where his neck met his jaw. I heard the plastic casing of the pistol crack, but watched the digger drop like an empty suit of clothes.

The apes weren’t any faster. The first one, my informant, went over backward into the wall, his face blown to smithereens by the three slugs I got off before the pistol jammed. His buddy turned to run. I brought up the sliver gun in my other hand and stitched half a clip of one-inch steel needles along his spine—from ass-crack to shoulder blades.

The whole thing hadn’t taken much more than thirty seconds. I drew a cleansing breath, stepped toward the apes to bar-code the bodies with the reader in my badge—and heard the little crunch of sound behind me.

Love the illustration, Sam!

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