Knights of Pen & Paper 2 logoGreetings, Loyal Reader!

It has been a while since I have posted and I have been up to many things. Today I want to mention my most recent project that you can get your hands on: the Paradox Interactive game Knights of Pen & Paper 2. Per the publisher, “Knights of Pen & Paper 2 is a turn-based, retro style, pixel-art adventure full of danger, intrigue, death, and saving throws!”

Knights of Pen & Paper 2 — or KoPP2 to friends — is part tongue-in-cheek parody of tabletop fantasy role-playing games and part interactive simulation game simulating tabletop RPGs. You, the player, control a group of in-game RPG players and the player characters they are playing as they go on an epic quest to save the world of Paperos from disaster.

It’s all very meta, but all you really need to know is that it is a funny and fun game you can play on your smartphone or tablet, or via Steam. And that there are flying monkeys.

I had the opportunity to be a story editor and additional writer on this project. To be clear, my role in the overall making of the game was fairly limited. I worked with the smart, talented and very creative team at Kyy Games to help them kick around story ideas and I also got to suggest a few jokes and script a few of the smaller episodes (or “quests” in the lingo of the game) myself. I won’t say which ones, because that would not at all be in the spirit of a collaborative project. The final game is the result of a lot of hard work by a lot of people, most of whom were not me.

This was my first experience working in the realm of “interactive games” (or what I still tend to call “video games” because I am older than Pong). I learned a lot about the game-making process…and learned there is a lot I don’t know. It is always fun to get a glimpse “behind the scenes”.

I especially enjoyed the collaborative aspect, kicking ideas back and forth with the writers and producers and Kyy and Paradox, and riffing off of each other to tell the story and combining our imaginations to create an entertaining experience for the players. Being part of a creative team is a very different experience than writing a novel, where it is all on me. It was also different trying to think in terms of an interactive story, where player choices affect what happens next, and within the confines of a game environment where visuals are a big part of the player experience and text/dialogue is in many ways secondary. I had to stretch a little and it was fun!

That said, I’m not giving up on novels. I have one completed book floating around in editorial limbo right now, I am currently getting the next Jason Cosmo novel, Royal Crush, ready to release this summer and I’m gearing up to write the long-awaited Boltblaster after that. More on all that soon. For now … take a look at Knight of Pen & Paper 2 and let me know what you think! Available in your favorite app store now.

Best regards,

Dan McGirt

{ 0 comments }

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

Magicka: The Ninth Element by Dan McGirtI can finally reveal the “Secret Project” I’ve been working on all year.  Magicka: The Ninth Element is a short novel set in the world of the Paradox Interactive game MagickaMagicka is “an action-adventure game set in the fantasy world of Midgård, where elemental magic rules the land, goblins and trolls are perfectly harmless – well, perhaps not entirely, and all the villagers are wise-cracking smart alecks.

Magicka is a third-person shooter style game in which one to four player control Wizard character and launch a huge variety of destructive spells at enemy necromancers, orcs, and other terrible foes.

Here is more about the game:

The story begins amidst a great crisis, and an urgent quest falls to you, Wizards of the Order of Magick. It would seem that the capital city of Hávindr is under siege! So alas, you must leave your comfortable castle filled with delicious hot dogs and fancy cheeses, and hurry to the aid of the King.

In your travels you will fight your way through 13 levels, each more fiendish than the last. You shall draw upon the aid of magickal spells, freely combined from the eight elements. As you progress, you will learn the delicate art of annihilating your enemies with the awesome powers of ancient Magicks. As if that’s not enough, you can also test your skills in the various challenge modes, and duel your friends (or enemies) in player vs player battle mode.

The game is a blast and there are several extra levels, sequels and prequels that expand and extend the original storyline and offer more opportunities for magickal mayhem.

This where I come in.

Last year, Paradox approached me about authoring a tie-in novel. Magicka‘s tongue-in-cheek tone is similar, though not quite the same, as my comical Jason Cosmo fantasy adventure series. It sounded fun, so I signed up — and soon learned writing a story set in someone else’s fictional world presents certain … challenges.  It was an enjoyable experience, yet very different than being able to write and run with whatever crazy idea pops into my head.

Trying to capture the feel of a game that is more based on action and blowing stuff up than on deep character moments (not that I would know much about that … ) was also a challenge. I experimented with things like using comic book sound effects, lean descriptions (do I really need to describe a fireball spell in detail?) and other tricks to keep things moving.

I also got to add to Magicka lore. Often the answer to my questions about some bit of in-world history or “fact” was “Make something up.” So I did! (Often getting a response of  … “Odin’s onions, no! You can’t do that!”) So I was thrilled and excited to contribute in a small way to the development of Midgård.

The result is Magicka: The Ninth Element, in which four young Wizards are sent on a quest to pursue the mysterious Purple Wizard who has stolen a powerful artifact from the Order of Magick.

Which powerful artifact? No one is quite sure (for reasons explained in the story).

What does it do? Again, unclear. But it can’t be good.

Thus our heroes Davlo, Grimnir, Fafnir and Tuonetar set out on their quest — and promptly go off the map. (I’m not even kidding. The Midgård map in the front of the book will of little use to you. But it’s pretty!)

Will they survive the dangers of the Unmapped Lands? Will they catch the Purple Wizard in time? Will they save the world? Read the book to find out!

I’ll have more to share about Magicka: The Ninth Element soon. Today I’m just pleased that Loyal Readers can finally get your hands on it!

Available at

Best regards,

Dan McGirt

{ 0 comments }

What I’m Up To

by RDM on October 14, 2013

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

I’ve had a busy summer and fall and I thought I’d bring you up to speed on what I’ve been doing, what I’m working on, and what’s ahead.

[SECRET PROJECT]

  • The makers of a fun, crazy, tongue-in-cheek fantasy-themed computer game approached me a while back about writing a short tie-in novel set in the world of their game. It sounded fun, so I said sure! I can’t tell you the name of the game quite yet, because they haven’t officially announced the book.
  • I can tell you I turned in the manuscript last week and the target release date is in early November.
  • I have also seen draft cover art, which looks amazing — and which I will share as soon as I get the all clear to do so.
  • As I understand it, the book will be available in the Amazon Kindle Store only. I know! I know! That is not how I would do it, but I’m only the hired gun on this one, not the publisher.
  • More details to come!

New books from Andrea Parnell

  • The star author of my publishing company Trove Books is not me, but my mother Andrea Parnell.
  • Over the last few years Trove has released Mom’s gothic romance novels Dark Splendor and Whispers at Midnight, the novella Dark Prelude, and the Western romance Delilah’s Flame.
  • This fall she has three new titles coming out, including two more Western romance novels — Devil Moon and My Only Desire and a Western novella. All are in the final stages of editing and production — which means I am doing a good bit of editing and producing lately!

Jason Cosmo in Audio

Royal Crush

  • Last, but not least, with the soon-to-be-formally-announced Secret Project written, I am back to writing the next Jason Cosmo book, Royal Crush. Which, at this point, looks like an early 2014 release.

Whew! I’m tired. Are you tired? But I think we’re all caught up! I will try to post more often, and with greater brevity!

Best regards,

Dan McGirt

{ 0 comments }

Dragon Con and Writers’ Police Academy

by RDM on October 8, 2013

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

I had a busy September and as we head into fall and I thought I’d bring you up to speed:

Dan McGirt at Dragon Con 2013Dragon Con

I was a guest at Dragon Con in Atlanta. A special thanks to the Loyal Readers who attended my reading, my book signing, and my panel on Writers and the Law!

At the reading, I read the first two chapters of Noble Cause and handed out copies of Hero Wanted. I was assigned a tiny room in the sub-sub-sub basement of the Hyatt, so you had to be very determined or very lost to find me. Either way, it was a fun, fantastic audience!

The line at my book signing was not very long — which meant I got to chat with several Loyal Readers, some of whom had traveled a great distance to have me sign their copy of Jason Cosmo or Hero Wanted.  Thanks for stopping by and letting me know you enjoyed my books! That is always good to hear and very motivating as I work on the next book!

I ran the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) table for a couple of hours, hopefully not doing any permanent damage to SFWA’s reputation! I spoke with several young writers who had questions about what to do next. My advice to them can be summarized as write, write, write, and write some more. Also, read. (One would-be writer said he doesn’t read much, which puzzled me.)

I got to talk shop with writers Larry Niven, Kevin J Anderson, and Timothy Zahn, among others. I also chatted up several fantasy artists whose work you may find on the covers of my future books!

Writers Police Academy

Almost immediately after Dragon Con, I was off to Greensboro, North Carolina for Writers’ Police Academy. This amazing conference is organized by the tireless Lee Lofland and sponsored by Sisters in Crime, Inc. Two hundred writers of mysteries, thrillers, romantic suspense, YA and related genres took over a honest-to-gosh police academy for the weekend!

We attended demonstrations and lectures on forensics, police procedure, emergency rescue, and many other aspects of law enforcement and criminal investigations. I learned a lot! (I still need to process my notes).

We also got hands on training in fingerprinting, building searches, a realistic Virtual Reality firearm simulator (apologies to the imaginary family of the imaginary hostage I shot) and so much more no one could do it all.

Authors Lisa Gardner and Kathy Reichs and DNA expert Dr. Dan Krane gave excellent talks.

Again, I gained lots of great ideas for future books and stories (as well as, again, talking shop with lots of smart, talented, savvy writers.)

Two excellent events — but I’ve been writing too! Next post, I’ll update you on what I’m working on and what I’m doing next.

Best regards,

Dan McGirt

{ 0 comments }

Dan McGirt at Dragon*Con 2013

by RDM on August 27, 2013

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

Dragon*Con is the largest multi-media, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction & fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music and film in the universe. It will be Aug 30-Sept 2 in Atlanta, Georgia. Naturally, I’ll be there!

dragoncon logoIf you’ll be there too, here is my schedule. Please come and say hello!

FRIDAY, AUG 30

Reading and Q&A
Time: 4:00-5:00 pm (1 hr)
Location: University – Hyatt

At this session I will read a selection from Noble Cause and answer questions about my work.

SATURDAY, SEP 1

SFWA Table
Time: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (1 hr)
Location: Not sure.

In an astonishing lapse of judgment, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) is leaving me in charge of their table during this period. Location unknown, but I’ll find it!

Autograph Session
Time: Sat 4:00-5:00 pm (1 hr)
Location: International Hall South – Marriott

I share this session with several other writers: Jane Espenson, Brad Bell (TV writers, I think), S.M. Stirling (Dies the Fire, Island in the Sea of Time, etc) Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (the Saint-Germain Cycle and much more).

Laws and the Writer
Time: Sat 7:00-8:00 pm (1 hr)
Location: Embassy D-F – Hyatt

The official description is: “How the law affects you as a writer, what protections it offers, and how to seek the help
of a professional.” I think that means the help of a legal professional. I will discuss copyright, defamation, plagiarism, contracts and other legal issues relating to writers. Lots of time for audience questions. I am a lawyer, but (as I will repeat several times) anything I say in this session is not legal advice, but is for informational purposes only. Every situation is unique and if you need legal advice you should retain an attorney of your own.

SUNDAY – MONDAY

On these days, and when I am not at the above sessions on Friday and Saturday, I will be wandering around Dragon*Con. I look forward to seeing you there!

Best regards,

Dan McGirt

{ 0 comments }

My Really Big Announcement

by RDM on May 24, 2013

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

Dan McGirt holds a copy of his book Hero WantedI’ll get right to it: by the end of June I will leave my current job and will be, henceforth, a full-time author and publisher.

This is a momentous move I have long wanted to make, long planned for, and which is long overdue.

For me, the implications are many (including a possible increase in my consumption of ramen noodles1) but I want to discuss what it means for you, Loyal Reader!

The short version is this: barring some tragic reversal of Greek myth proportions, I will soon be writing more stories, writing them faster, and getting them out to Loyal Readers sooner.

For fans of Jason Cosmo, this means no more multi-year waits between books. It means I also can write the various short stories and mini-novels I have sketched out that will expand the Cosmoverse and explore the characters who inhabit it.

It means, at long last … BOLTBLASTER!

Beyond Jason Cosmo, there are other books that have been bubbling in my head for many a year, such as my Jack Scarlet series of modern technopulp adventures, a comical series focused on supernatural investigations, an over-the-top space opera (with ray guns!), and more. Much more.

I aim to write them all!

Not all at once, mind you! But I’ve got so many projects on the back burner it’s a fire hazard. I need to write these stories just to free up some space in my brain, if nothing else. (It beats trepanation.2)

You know how frustrating it is waiting for a story to continue … be it waiting for the next issue of a comic, the next book in a series, or next week’s episode of your favorite show. It is just as frustrating having an imagination full of tales to tell, and no time to tell them. So I very much look forward to publishing more stories more often for more readers to enjoy.

There you have it — my Really Big Announcement! (Sure, it may be bigger for me than for you …) I’m excited to take this leap. You don’t have to jump off the cliff with me — but I hope you will pull up a chair and enjoy the show. Whether I fly high or crash and burn, it’s sure to be entertaining!

Best regards,

Dan McGirt

PS: I discuss in more detail what this means for the Jason Cosmo series at JasonCosmo.com.

  1. Or maybe not! []
  2. I need that like I need another hole in my head. []

{ 1 comment }

Dan McGirt at Dragon*Con 2013

by RDM on February 6, 2013

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

dragoncon logoI am thrilled to announce I will be a guest at Dragon*Con 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia, August 30-September 2.  I’ll post details of my convention schedule when I know them. I hope to do a reading and/or signing and I’m sure to be on a couple of panels. Otherwise I’ll be wandering around, meeting up with friends and Loyal Readers, checking out all the great costumes, browsing the vendor offerings, meeting artists I might want to hire for future projects, and generally enjoying the convention! Do you know I’ve never actually seen the Dragon*Con costume parade down Peachtree Street? I’m looking forward to it!

Also, thanks to all those who have been reading Dash! Into Space! I’m sorry the story has been on hold for a while. But don’t worry! I’m not abandoning Dash and I’ll get back to the book later this year. I’ll be pretty busy through at least April, with work assignments and a short media tie-in novel I was hired to do — more details on that later. In the meantime, thank you for reading — and I hope to have more fun stuff for you soon!

Best regards,

Dan McGirt

{ 0 comments }

Dash: Into Space! preview (part 10)

by RDM on October 8, 2012

The Dash: Into Space! preview blasts into Chapter 10!

(For those who came in late, catch up with Part 1 and follow the links at the end of each episode.)

Last episode, Dash found dead aliens and a large supply of Spam and made a new friend.

This week we answer the age-old question: Are we there yet?


Chapter 10: Hard Landing


 

Dash was awakened by a shock so sudden and severe that if he had not been lying fast asleep, with his body relaxed, he might have been hurt.

As it was, he was flung into the air, along with almost everything in the big room: socks and shirts and snacks and batteries and beer flew every which way. Fortunately, nothing fatally large came Dash’s way, but he did take several painful lumps from flying cans of Spam before everything settled down.

Otto meantime rolled crazily this way and that, like a giant glowing pinball slapped around by invisible flippers, rebounding off walls and pillars and benches. At last the glowball careened around the bend to part of the room where the dead aliens and the headless cow were.

Dash lay on the floor, listening to the pounding of his own heart. He was sore, and he would have a few bruises later, but he wasn’t bleeding and nothing felt broken. He was pretty much intact.

Except for his dignity. With disgust, Dash realized he had wet himself. Again. Not just now, but in his sleep. He blushed, though there was no one to see. Seriously—what was wrong with him? He was peeing all over himself lately.

Now ickily conscious of the stale wetness against his skin, Dash sat up, too fast, and learned he also had a tremendous pulsing headache. And not from getting smacked by a can of Spam. He felt hung-over. He felt as dried out as a stray strand of spaghetti left overnight in the pot. He also felt like he was about to be sick.

Dash turned over and threw up, which left a gross taste in his mouth, but he felt better afterward. Slim Jims, Spam, and Circus Peanuts for dinner had seemed like a really good idea at the time…and it might again, if he didn’t find anything else to eat around here.

Dash ditched his soggy loincloth, dried off, and fashioned a new skirt—he preferred to think of it as a kilt—from fresh shirts. “Hey, Otto!” he called, as he knotted the shirts around his waist. “Hey, little buddy where are you?”

Without warning, the floor tilted crazily, sending everything sliding against the far wall. Dash lost his balance and went sliding along with all the loose objects. He slammed into a pile of cigarette cartons which broke his fall. Grinning wryly at a crumpled image of Nick Tyger he muttered, “I guess cigarettes can be good for you sometimes, huh?”

The floor shifted again, though less drastically. What was going on? An earthquake and aftershocks? If so, he should find a way out of here fast. “Otto! You okay?”

“Otto!” echoed the unseen glowball. “Otto!”

Dash crab-walked to the bend in the room and peered around. At the far end, he saw the decapitated cow, the three dead aliens, and a pile of boxes and cans and other junk. Barely visible, wedged under the cow, was the glowball, blinking red.

“Otto! Otto!” said the ball.

“You stuck?” said Dash. “Hang in there, buddy! I’ll get you out.”

Dash half-scampered, half-slid to the bottom of the room. Otto was stuck fast under the body of the oddly shapeless cow. Draped over it was one of the little gray dudes. Dash gently lifted the body and laid it to one side.

“Otto! Otto! Otto!” said the glowball.

Otto was pinned under the cow’s shoulder. Dash approached the headless front end of the animal.

“Ew!” he said, scrunching up his face.

There was no way to get a handhold without sticking his hand inside the neck and grabbing the remaining end of the bovine spine. Dash fought back the urge to vomit again and stuck his hand into the meaty mess. The carcass, though drained of its vital fluids, was still very heavy.

“Otto, I can’t lift this cow by myself. I might be able to move it a little. Hope that’s good enough.”

Dash planted both feet against the tilted floor and heaved. His socks slipped and he lurched forward, face-planting into the neck hole. Repulsed, he pushed himself upright, spitting and gagging.

“That is so gross!” said Dash.

“Otto!”

“Hang tight. I’ll get it this time.”

Dash removed his socks, got a better grip, and heaved with all his might. At first the carcass did not move. But gradually it shifted. The hoof at the end of a stiff leg scraped slowly across the floor. He got one inch of clearance, then two, then a third…then Otto the glowball shot free of its entrapment and rolled several feet up the incline before pausing.

Dash dropped the headless cow. He leaned back to catch his breath.

“You okay, Otto?”

“Good boy. Good boy,” said Otto. Otto’s swirl of colors was now orange, yellow, purple, blue, and green.

“You’re welcome,” said Dash. “Now you’ll have to tell me how you roll uphill.”

Otto continued upward. Dash had to lean far forward and use his hands for support to make it back up the incline. When he reached the upper part of the room, he found the aperture through which he entered this chamber had reappeared. Otto waited beside it.

“Why are you chasing me?” said Otto. It was still freaky hearing his own voice coming from the glowball. But far from the freakiest thing going on here.

“You want me to follow you again,” said Dash. “I get it. But let me grab a few things for the road.”

Dash scavenged what useful items he could reach—a handful of Slim Jims, a couple cans of Spam, a carton of Tygers, a pair of sunglasses, a pen, a lighter, a “Gone Fishin’” trucker cap, a bottle of iodine, fresh socks and—because you never knew when you might need them—a can of WD-40 and a roll of duct tape. He wrapped all these items in a t-shirt and tied it into a bundle. He turned a second shirt into a sling for a bottle of cola, then knotted the two shirts together and hung them around his neck. He wished he had his backpack, but this would have to do.

Dash scrambled up the angled floor on all fours and followed Otto into the corridor. It curved steeply down and away. Otto rolled out of sight around the curve at a controlled pace, seemingly unaffected by the sharp incline.

“Hey! Wait up!”

Dash tried to follow. But he slipped and fell, landing hard on his butt. He started to slide, slowly at first, then faster and faster. The shirts around his waist saved him from a nasty friction burn, but there was nothing to grab to halt his slide. He caromed off the outer wall, rebounded to hit the inner wall, then spun around so he was sliding backward.

“Whoaaaaaaaaaaa!” he cried.

At last Dash slammed into another wall and came to a stop. He was sprawled across the outer wall of the curved corridor, except it was now the floor due to the crazy tilt. Dash peered up the corridor. “No way I’m ever getting back up there,” he said.

The corridor also curved upward at a sharp angle on the other side of the glowball. Dash looked at Otto accusingly. “So when you were chasing me before, was I just running around in a big circle?”

“Big circle,” said Otto.

“I just hope there’s an emergency exit.”

Otto emitted a series of clicks and tones. An aperture irised open in the outer wall (now the floor). Strange greenish light leached into the corridor.

Otto rolled dropped through the hole like a pool ball finding the corner pocket. Dash looked down and saw the glowball sitting on a shimmering pavement several feet below. Otto rolled aside.

Dash carefully lowered himself through the hole until his feet touched solid ground. He looked all around him, his eyes growing bigger and bigger at what he saw.

“Otto, I don’t know where we are—but this ain’t Kansas!”


 

And that’s Chapter 10! Hmm, I wonder where Dash has landed?

Be here next episode, when Dash says: “Great. It’s the planet of the blue apes.”

Thanks for reading!

Dan McGirt

{ 0 comments }

Dash: Into Space! preview (part 9)

by RDM on September 20, 2012

The preview of Dash: Into Space! continues with Chapter 9.

If you just tuned in, you can catch up with Part 1 and follow the links at the end of each episode until you end up back here.

All caught up? Great!

Then, as you know, in our last episode, Dash was chased by a strange glowball, until he turned the tables.

Now Dash confronts a new mystery…


Chapter 9: This Isn’t Happening


The room was big. Almost as big as the Plainsville High School gym, but with a much lower ceiling and a far more irregular shape. The proportions here were all wrong. There were no corners or right angles to be seen. The room was shaped like half a kidney, but not quite. Every visible surface was curved, usually in ways that strained the eye. There was the same strange, misty light as in the corridor.

Curious structures dotted the chamber, protruding from the floor like mushrooms or from the ceiling like stalactites or out from the walls like misshapen shelves. These protuberances were formed from the same composite ceramic-metal stuff that this whole strange place seemed to be made of. Some were covered with clusters of glowing crystal rods in various colors.

All very weird.

But nothing next to the weirdness of what else the room contained.

Scattered across the floor, and placed almost randomly on the shelves and platforms were hundreds of objects. Objects Dash recognized—ballpoint pens, cheap plastic sunglasses, blue tins of Spam, family size bottles of iodine, packs of 9-volt batteries, vacant-eyed Barbie doll heads, two-liter bottles of Diet Maiden-Cola, trucker hats printed with funny slogans, and hundreds of cases of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

There were piles of black nylon dress socks, drugstore pantyhose and white acrylic athletic socks. Roll upon roll of Saran Wrap, duct tape, and Hello Kitty! stickers. Piles of Slim Jims, bags of orange marshmallow Circus Peanuts, cans of Cheez Whiz. Hundreds of coconuts.

Dash saw a pyramid of car batteries, cases of WD-40, and a stack of naked-woman-outline mud flaps. He also noticed several thousand cartons of Tyger cigarettes, along with a litter of Nick Tyger paraphernalia: lighters, mouse pads, tins, ash trays, plastic mugs, playing cards and posters depicting the cartoon tiger cigarette mascot being cool and sexy.

It looked like someone looted the world’s biggest truck stop.

Seeing all these familiar things did not put Dash at ease. He again suspected this might all be a dream. What else made sense?

“What is all this?” he asked the glowball.

“Okay, here we are,” it replied, again using Dash’s voice.

“You’re a lot of help,” muttered Dash.

The ball rolled farther into the room. Dash followed, pausing to scoop a black t-shirt off the floor and put it on. It portrayed a tuxedo-clad Nick Tyger, cigarette dangling from his feline lips, spinning a roulette wheel. An admiring glamour girl clung to his arm. “Treat yourself to a Tyger!” commanded the dark orange text.

“I wonder if there are any pants in here?” mused Dash.

The glowball did not reply. He followed the rolling sphere around a bend, to a part of the room not visible from the door.

Dash froze.

He felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up and gooseflesh form on his arms. A sickly knot blossomed in his gut.

Lying atop one of the mushroom-like platforms was a headless steer. Despite being very obviously dead—the missing head was a big clue—there was no smell. Also no blood or guts or anything like that. The animal had been completely exsanguinated.

That was freaky enough.

But on the steer’s flank was a mark Dash recognized: the brand of the Red Cloud Ranch. Hadn’t Gil, in the parking lot, the other day said something about cattle mutilations there?

“This is creeping me out,” said Dash. He took a cautious step forward. His bare foot brushed something cold and rubbery. He looked down, then leapt back with a cry of alarm.

The steer wasn’t the only dead thing here.

Sprawled on the floor were three small bodies. He had almost stepped on one of them.

They were no bigger than children. But they weren’t children. Not unless they were wearing masks and costumes—but Dash knew at a glance the proportions of the bodies weren’t human.

It was the three freaky little dudes from his dream.

Or vision. Or whatever it was before. And might still be.

These were the same ones, he was sure. But now they were dead.

Or at least very stiff and very still.

They were bipedal, three to four feet tall, wearing metallic bodysuits. They had six long fingers on each hand. Their big black eyes stared blankly. Their sucker-shaped mouths were fixed in rigid O’s of…well, Dash couldn’t really ascribe any particular emotion to their expressions.

“This cannot be happening,” said Dash. “This cannot be real.”

Dash knelt and, hesitantly, reached for the nearest creature’s face. He couldn’t explain how, but he knew this wasn’t a doll or a robot or a wax dummy. It was a living thing. Or a once living thing. He hesitated, half-expecting it to bite his hand or jump up and grab him by the throat.

It did neither.

The flesh felt spongy and cold. It yielded slightly to Dash’s touch, then sprang back to shape as he yanked his hand away. He noticed a sticky brown residue on and around the body. Near its feet was an almost empty 2-liter bottle of Diet Maiden-Cola. There was also something clutched in the creature’s hand.

Dash pried the six fingers open.

Half a pack of Mentos candy rolled to the floor. The fingers snapped back into a clenched position.

“Curiouser and curiouser,” muttered Dash.

Dash examined the other two bodies. They too were covered with the sticky brown residue. He found more scattered Mentos and half-empty bottles of diet cola.

Okay, three dead little dudes and a headless cow in a room full of beer, cigarettes, batteries, and junk food. Empty cola bottles and candy scattered around.

“What happened to them?” Dash asked the glowball.

The blinking orb said nothing.

Dash explored the room. The glowball followed him. He found no more bodies and no other exits. When he returned to his point of entry, the door was gone. As if it were never there. Dash asked the glowball to open it again, but got no response.

Dash also found no pants. He knotted several t-shirts together into a makeshift loincloth—very Tauric Strongbull. He looked ridiculous, but at lease he wasn’t butt naked. He also put on a pair of the athletic socks to protect his feet. Would it have killed these aliens to abduct some Nikes?

Next he had a meal of cold Spam, Slim Jims, and Circus Peanuts, washed down with flat diet cola.

Only then did he treat himself to a Tyger. And a PBR. And then another. Dash wasn’t a real drinker, but right now beer seemed like a very good idea. He leaned against a stack of boxes and took a long swig of Pabst, followed by a puff of his cigarette. His head was soon buzzing. But he felt much calmer than he had since waking up in the egg-shaped room.

Dash exhaled a cloud of smoke and said, “Little glowball, if this isn’t a dream, then I’ve been abducted by aliens who shop at Wal-Mart.”

The glowball made no comment.

“Which is almost the least scary of those options, you know?”

The glowball, now bathed in greens and blues, said nothing.

Dash downed another beer.

“Yer’sha good little glowball,” slurred Dash. “Good ball. Good boy. You follow me like Otto does. M’gon call you Otto too, m’kay? Otto Two. Me Dash. You Otto. Got it?”

“Me Dash. You Otto,” said Otto.

Dash laughed. “No, other way ‘round. Okay, shleepy now.” He stubbed out the cigarette. “Gotta rest. Just close m’eyes a minute. You stay, okay, Otto. Otto stay.”

“Otto stay,” repeated Otto.

“Good boy,” said Dash. “Good boy.”

And then he was asleep.


And so ends Chapter 9. Pleasant dreams, Dash. Maybe things will all be back to normal when you wake up.

Be here next time, when Dash says: “I just hope there’s an emergency exit.”

Thanks for reading!
Dan McGirt

{ 0 comments }

Dash: Into Space! preview (part 8)

by RDM on September 11, 2012

Dash: Into Space!, an alien abduction comedy, continues.  Catch up with Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7 at the links. Last episode, Dash woke up in a strange place. This week, he takes a tour.


Chapter 8: Having a Ball


 

The corridor went on and on. It curved slightly to the right. There were no doors, corners, or exits. Dash wasn’t sure how long he had been running, but he knew he was slowing down. He was winded, lungs burning, legs shaking.

But the glowing ball stayed right behind him.

Right behind him.

Never overtaking him.

Even though Dash wasn’t even running anymore.

He was down to more of a quick jog.

Dash slowed to a trot. His humming pursuer matched his pace.

Dash walked slower. The ball rolled slower.

Finally, Dash stopped.

The glowing globe stopped too.

Dash turned around.

The glowball sat motionless. Its pulsing lights were mostly orange and yellow now, gradually morphing to green and blue.

“What do you want with me?” asked Dash. “Why are you chasing me? What is this place?”

The ball responded with a crackle of static, followed by a series of strange insect-like clicks and an eerie electronic hum.

Dash backed away. The ball advanced.

Dash stopped backing away. The ball stopped advancing.

“What is this place?” Dash shouted, his frustration and confusion boiling over.

“What is this place?” said his own voice, coming from the ball.

Dash was startled. The ball evidently contained a voice recorder. But was some unseen operator controlling it remotely?

“Who’s there?” he asked.

“Who’s there?” echoed the ball.

“Where am I? Please tell me!” Dash took a step toward the ball.

“Where am I? Please tell me!” The ball rolled back.

“Okay, stop it! You’re freaking me out!”

“Okay, stop it! You’re freaking me out!”

The playback was in almost perfect sync now, with Dash’s words coming back to him just a split second after he uttered them. It was like speaking into a microphone.

“Quit saying whatever I say!”

“Quit saying whatever I say!”

“Stop it!” Dash stalked forward.

“Stop it!” The globe rolled back.

Dash lunged for the ball. Flashing yellow and orange, it rolled out of his reach. Dash went after it. The ball rolled away. Dash chased it down the corridor, back the way he had come.

Dash hadn’t entirely caught his breath, but he ran at the retreating sphere as hard as he could. The fleeing glowball stayed always just ahead of Dash, never letting him to get close enough to grasp it.

Soon Dash was winded again. He stopped and doubled over, hands on his knees, huffing and puffing for breath. Damn you, Nick Tyger!

The ball stopped.

“I’d really like to wake up now,” Dash said. “This is the most exhausting dream I’ve ever had.”

“Why are you chasing me?” said the ball, replaying Dash’s question from a few minutes ago. “You’re freaking me out!” it added, again in Dash’s pre-recorded voice.

The glowball rolled menacingly toward Dash, who jumped back.

“Hey!” said Dash, backpedaling as the ball advanced. “Hey now!” Dash kept retreating.

“Quit saying whatever I say!” said the ball, slowly stalking him.

“I’m not!” said Dash. He lunged angrily at the ball, which instantly reversed course. “You are!”

“I’m not!” said the ball. “You are!”

“No, you are!” shouted Dash.

“No, you are!” said the ball.

“Am not!”

“Am not!”

“This is crazy!” Dash threw his hands up. “What is this? Some kind of nutty psychology experiment? I want to go home.”

“I just want to go home,” repeated the glowball. It paused beside Dash for a moment, then rolled away, disappearing around the bend of the corridor.

Dash stayed where he was. He was starting to think this wasn’t a dream or drug-induced hallucination. And if it wasn’t a dream then where the hell was he? What was this place? How did he get here? And, really, he didn’t care about all that—he just wanted to get out of here. He just wanted to go home. He felt tears forming in the corners of his eyes.

The glowball returned and stopped in front of him. “I just want to go home,” said the ball. It started back down the corridor, but this time it paused before going out of view. “Why are you chasing me? I’m not! You are!” it said, again with Dash’s words.

Dash frowned. The stupid ball was remixing his words now. Was it trying to communicate with him? “You want me to follow you, is that it?”

“I just want to go home,” said the sphere. It rolled a few feet and stopped again. The swirling colors inside it were now mostly yellow and green, with some streamers of blue.

Dash sighed. “Oh, why not?”

If this was a dream, the glowy ball would lead him somewhere, like a will-o’-wisp. If it wasn’t—well, following the glowball beat just standing here. Naked. In a strange place.

Dash followed until the ball stopped. Dash couldn’t see how this part of the corridor was different from any other.

“Okay, here we are,” he said. “Now what?”

The ball chirped and a section of the wall irised open, creating a portal several feet across, but only about four feet high. The glowball rolled through. Cautiously, Dash ducked down and followed.
He blinked when he saw what was on the other side.

“Oh my God!” said Dash.

Nothing could prepare him for this.


 

Here ends Chapter 8.  Hmm, I wonder what is on the other side of that door?

Find out next episode, when Dash says: “I wonder if there are any pants in here?”

Thanks for reading!

Dan McGirt

{ 0 comments }