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

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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

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Dash: Into Space! preview (part 7)

by RDM on August 17, 2012

We continue our draft preview of my book-in-progress,  Dash: Into Space!, an alien abduction comedy.  If you’re just tuning in, catch up with Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6 at the links.  The last thing Dash remembers is facing down Max’s onrushing truck. After that, things got strange. This week: things get even stranger!


Chapter 7: Dash Wakes Up


 

Dash shuddered and twitched and was awake.

He lay face down in a large puddle of what felt like snail slime. He gagged and retched and rolled onto his side and coughed up a big clout of disgusting clear goop.

He was naked.

Also thirsty. Hungry. And cold.

The floor beneath him was a hard, smooth surface, faintly iridescent, like a soap bubble in the sun.

Dash sat up. He groaned. His head throbbed like someone was rapidly expanding and deflating balloons inside it. He blinked. The room was lit with a strange blue light that came from no discernible source. The glow hung in the air like a mist of fine sparks.

A thin crust of crud coated his body. It was like when you have a runny nose and snot dries all around your nostrils. Except this was all over. Flakes of crud fell off him with every move. He brushed the stuff off his face and shook it out of his hair like dandruff from hell.

He looked around. He was in a small room. The walls curved up seamlessly into a domed ceiling so that he appeared to be inside a big silvery-white faintly iridescent egg.

What is this place?

Dash stood with care. The floor was slippery, like fresh-mopped tiles. He shuffled clear of the slime puddle. He saw no door, no windows or vents or any sort of exit.

“Hello?” he croaked. His throat felt constricted from long disuse. “Hello? Is anyone there?”

No one answered.

Is this a dream? Like that dream where I’m at school and naked and there is a big test and I haven’t studied for it because I didn’t know about it? He was naked. But this was far stranger than the go-to-school-naked dream.

Dash pressed his hand against the wall. It was cool to the touch. He couldn’t tell what it was made of. Some kind of metal or ceramic or composite, but nothing he could name.

What can I remember? His mind felt strangely blank. He couldn’t remember anything except the past few minutes.

And that naked school dream.

He concentrated harder. A jumble of images flashed through his brain. Loud music. Riding in the Jeep. Studying with Astrid. A light in the sky. And pain. Lots of pain.

Pain?

Oh, right. Max and Billy and the cornfield.

And Max’s truck.

And the bright light.

Max ran over me with his truck!

This was starting to make sense. He must be in the hospital. Intensive care. He had to be pretty doped up on painkillers after being hit by a truck, right? Morphine or whatever. He was probably in a coma. Or hallucinating.

More images came to him. Three freaky little dudes. The cow.

Okay, harder to explain.

But, might the freaky little dudes in tinfoil suits be…his doctors? Distorted through an opiate haze?

Or maybe they were Aunt Emma and Uncle Hans and…Astrid?

Would she come see me in the hospital?

Sure she would. After all, it was her psycho ex-boyfriend who ran over him. She must feel pretty bad about that. Maybe she hadn’t left his side.

And the cow head?

Well…he’d figure out the cow part later.

So if I’m unconscious, this egg room must be my brain’s interpretation of…of…the inside of an MRI scanner?

He remembered a bright light. A floating sensation.

That was surgery, right? Anesthesia kicking in. The bright lamps in the O.R. shining down while doctors struggled to save his life.

I must be messed up pretty bad.

At least he could still walk.

Or, at least, he could still imagine he could walk.

Which was something.

But none of these explanations were entirely convincing.

Why was he naked? Even in the hospital, they give you those gowns. He had nothing on, not a stitch.

Not even a surgical stitch. He looked himself over. Not a bruise. Not a scratch. No surgical scar. Nothing.

A disturbing thought occurred to Dash.

What if I’m dead?

Bright light, floating—classic near death experience. Maybe too near. Maybe he was on the other side. This could be heaven.

Or this could be hell.

Either way, it was a pretty slackass afterlife.

I don’t feel dead.

He felt hungry, thirsty, and cold. And scared.

Dash beat on the wall with both fists, shouting, “Hey! Somebody let me out of here! Let me out of here!”

He heard a pneumatic hiss behind him.

Dash turned. In the opposite wall an aperture spiraled open like the lens shutter on a camera.

The old non-digital kind.

“Hello?” said Dash.

He crossed to the opening, peered through it to see an empty corridor that curved away in both directions. It was made of the same stuff as the egg-shaped room, but there were undulating ripples along the walls and ceiling. It looked like the inside of a big corrugated pipe.

This was no hospital.

“Hello!” called Dash. “Who’s there?”

The walls seemed to absorb the sound of his voice.

Dash stepped through the opening. He covered his crotch with both hands, suddenly very conscious of being naked. Whose eyes he was covering up from, he wasn’t sure.

“Is anyone here?” he called.

A loud, piercing, high-pitched screech, like the worst amp feedback ever, filled the corridor. Dash forgot any attempt at modesty and covered his ears.

“Yow! Turn it off!” he shouted.

The screech ended. He heard a new sound coming from somewhere down the corridor. An oddly familiar sound. It was like the rumble of a bowling ball rolling down the lane at Tornado Alley, the tacky little bowling spot in Plainsville. Dash didn’t go there often, since he usually had to work on the farm, but he knew that sound.

This was something much bigger than a bowling ball. It was coming his way fast. And Dash didn’t see any bowling pins.

He turned to step back into the egg-shaped room. But the opening he had emerged from was gone, sealed, erased as if it never existed.

Dash started to back slowly down the corridor.

Then, suddenly, it rolled into view.

It was a sphere, about the size of one of those big exercise balls at the gym.

It glowed. Its surface was translucent and there were strange lights inside. Blobs of light and strings of light and rods of light and pulsing shapes of light that disturbingly resembled that diagram of the parts of a cell he had huddled over with Astrid what seemed like a hundred years ago. There was a throbbing white light deep down under all the rest, but mostly blues, greens, purple and indigo, with a few flashes of yellow and orange, all swirling and flowing together like a big snow globe full of fireworks.

The glowing ball raced toward him, with no sign of slowing.

Dash ran.


And that’s Chapter 7, folks!

No one said dashing into space would be easy. Or make sense. Be here next episode, when Dash says: “This is the most exhausting dream I’ve ever had.”

Thanks for reading!

Dan McGirt

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Dash: Into Space! preview (part 6)

by RDM on August 8, 2012

We continue our draft preview of Dash: Into Space! If you’re just tuning in, catch up with Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 at the links.  Last episode, Dash was about to have a very bad experience. This week: Dash has a very bad experience!


Chapter 6: To the Stars Through Difficulties


Max jumped down from the truck and started toward them. Billy and Johnny emerged from the passenger side of the cab. Their boots crunched ominously in the loose gravel beside the highway.

“I am so glad you came along!” said Astrid, starting forward. “I don’t know what is wrong with my Jeep, but it just—”

Max ignored Astrid and jabbed an accusing finger at Dash as he strode toward him. “What did I tell you, Garnet?” he shouted. “What did I tell you? You’re dead!”

“Yeah, dead!” said Johnny.

“Get him, Max!” shouted Billy.

Max charged. Every instinct told Dash to run. But he only backed up a few steps and raised his hands placatingly, heeding an insistent inner voice that told him not to leave Astrid. Whether it was concern for her safety or simply not wanting to look like a coward in front of her that froze his feet, Dash didn’t have time to sort out. Max batted his upraised hands aside, grabbed him by the shirt and shoved him hard against the back of the Jeep. Dash bounced off the rear glass, lost his footing and sat down hard on the wide bumper. Max’s fist connected with his stomach. Dash doubled over and fell roughly to his knees. Chunks of gravel gouged his legs through his jeans.

“Told you to stay away from her!” Max kicked Dash in the face, knocking him onto his back. “Told you what would happen!”

Astrid screamed. Another kick connected with Dash’s side, bruising ribs. Dash curled into a ball. Another kick. Dash tried to drag himself under the Jeep to escape Max’s hard-toed boots hitting him with the force of hammers, but feet seemed to be everywhere, pinning him in, striking him from every side.

“Max! What are you doing? Stop it! Stop it! You’re hurting him!” shouted Astrid. “Stop it, Max!”

Johnny and Billy came closer, laughing and egging Max on.

“Make him bleed!” shouted Billy. “Stomp his face!”

“P-please…” bleated Dash. A kick to the gut dug deep up under his ribs. He felt his bladder lose control, felt the hot wetness staining his jeans.

“Pissed his pants!” yowled Billy.

“Yeah, his pants!” said Johnny.

Tears welled from Dash’s eyes. He squeezed them shut, as if that might shut out the pain and humiliation. “Please stop,” he gasped. His voice sounded small and pathetic in his own ears. He felt a surge of nausea.

“Followed you from her house, geekstain!” raged Max. He circled Dash like a wolf, aiming kick after kick with painful accuracy. “Saw you pull over here to make out. Did you think I wouldn’t find out, loser? You’re dead!”

“Max, that’s crazy!” shouted Astrid. “I’m driving him home! My engine died! Max, stop it!”

Astrid grabbed Max’s arm to pull him away. It was a hopeless effort. He was a mountain of muscle and she was less than half his size. Without even turning around, Max shoved Astrid away and aimed another kick at Dash.

Astrid yelped in surprise as she fell. She sprawled on her back, half lying in the highway.

Dash opened his eyes at the sound of Astrid’s cry. He saw her fall to the ground. Their eyes met for a moment. He saw the look of shock and fear on her face.

What happened next, he couldn’t explain.

Max, belatedly realizing what he had done, cut short launching his next kick and half-turned toward Astrid.

Dash’s fist closed around a extra large piece of gravel, about the size, and roughly the shape, of a pear. Moving with a speed and purpose he did not know he had, Dash launched himself to his feet. He swung his arm in a wide, flailing arc that intersected with Max’s face. The rock in his fist connected hard with Max’s cheekbone and scored a ragged red gash across his face.

It was a legendary blow, worthy of Tauric Strongbull himself. The sheer force of it, aided by Max’s own turning motion, spun the big jock around so that he lost his balance and face-planted hard to the edge of the highway, with his dazed head landing between Astrid’s knees.

Everything froze.

Dash looked from the bloody rock in his hand, to the prostrate form of his fallen foe, to Astrid gazing up at him with some mix of astonishment, horror, and what he thought might be admiration. He felt a surge of exhilaration, an atavistic joy at having struck back at his tormentor.

Billy and Johnny stared slack-jawed, looking back and forth between their downed leader and the scrawny loser who had just decked him. Their brains seemingly could not comprehend what their eyes were telling them.

Then, as suddenly as it came, Dash’s moment of triumph ended.

Max groaned, rose to all fours, and shouted, “Kill him!”

Billy and Johnny’s faces contorted with murderous hate as they started toward him.

Astrid screamed, “Run, Dash! Run!”

She didn’t have to tell him twice. But first, Dash pivoted and hurled the rock straight at Johnny’s face. He might not be good at much. He certainly wasn’t going to survive a fight with all three of these goons. But he could hit a fence post with a rock at sixty yards. The pear-shaped stone struck Billy in the right eye and sent him reeling. That was enough to befuddle Johnny and give Dash a twenty-yard head start. He leapt the ditch and ran into the corn field.

***

Dash had run less than a hundred yards through the moonlit rows of corn and he was already gasping for breath. Dash blamed cigarettes, but it wasn’t all Nick Tyger’s fault. Getting worked over by Max’s steel-toed boots may have had something to do with it too.

The broad, surprisingly sharp-edged corn leaves stung his face as he ran, but that was nothing compared to what Max and the morons would do if they caught him. Max was still back at the roadside, screaming obscenities at the top of his lungs and shouting for his buddies to haul Dash back there so he, Max, could beat Dash to death with his baseball bat. Or do anatomically incorrect things to him with a tire iron. It was hard to make out the details of what Max was saying with the blood pounding in Dash’s ears and the corn stalks whistling by. He also heard Astrid alternate between screaming for Dash to run—which meant she cared, right?—and screaming at Max.

Dash ran as hard as he had ever run in his life. His big head start didn’t mean much. Johnny, the big dumb offensive lineman, he might outrun. But Billy? No way. Billy ran track, played basketball, was shortstop on the varsity baseball squad. He also wasn’t quite right in the head. Oh, and Dash had just tagged him in the face with a rock. The only points in Dash’s favor were the darkness and the fact he was wearing sneakers. Cowboy boots were great for kicking the crap out of somebody. They weren’t so good for running.

As his initial panic subsided, the thinking parts of Dash’s brain came back online. He realized running in a straight line, perpendicular to the highway, was making things way too easy for his pursuers. Billy and Johnny would run him down, beat him to a pulp, and drag what was left of him back for Max to finish off.

Dash veered to the right, cutting through the corn rows at an angle. It meant putting less straight line distance between him and the morons, but it might help him evade them in the dark.

“You can’t run forever!” bellowed Max.

“Watch me,” muttered Dash. He heard his pursuers thrashing through the corn, but his change of direction seemed to have fooled them. They were still going straight in from the highway.

This will work. This will work. They’ll give up and leave. They’ll—

“Smoke him out!” shouted Max. “Split up and find him!”

A bright light cut across the field from the direction of the highway. It swept back and forth across the tops of the corn plants. Max had a portable searchlight in his truck. Of course he did.

“There he is!” shouted Max. “Go right!”

How could Max see him? The light never touched Dash. He glanced up, realized Max saw the tops of the plants moving as Dash thrashed through them. Damn!

“Yeah, right!” shouted Johnny.

Billy gave a loud Indian war whoop. They were coming his way.

Dash sprinted straight down the aisle between two rows so Max could no longer track him. Billy and Johnny were coming his way fast, running down parallel rows. Max’s light swept the field twice more, then winked out.

Dash immediately cut across three more rows. He stopped to catch his breath, doubled over, huffing and chuffing hard. His insides hurt. His lungs burned. His heart felt like it was about to explode from his chest. He couldn’t keep this up. Maybe he should just lay down here, be very still and quiet, and hope they wouldn’t find him in this huge field.

No, they’d bring a light, find his footprints, track him down. He had to keep moving. Billy and Johnny were getting close. Dash ran deeper into the field, crossing the rows. If he led them far enough away from the road, they might give up and turn back.

Max’s truck roared to life. Dash glanced over his shoulder.

Max was driving into the field!

God, he’s going to run me down!

Fresh terror lent Dash new speed. He wasn’t thinking about angles now, or anything but moving as fast as his exhausted legs could move him.

The big truck’s high beams threw weird looming shadows as the massive metal monster blasted through row after row of corn with a whup-whup-whup of destroyed plants.

If he spots me I’m dead! thought Dash.

He saw a flash of metal in the moonlight as the truck roared past, about fifty yards to the right. Dash turned left as the red tail lights receded across the field. Max was ahead of him now. But Billy and Johnny were still somewhere behind, so he dared not turn back toward the road.

Now Max veered left. He was about a hundred yards deeper in the field and evidently realized he had overshot, that there was no way Dash had run that far. Leaning on the horn—that had to be purely for intimidation—Max swung the truck around. Whether he knew it or not, now Max was headed straight for Dash.

Dash turned and froze, watching the onrushing headlights get closer and closer. Every breath was agony. Something important was bruised or punctured inside him. He really needed to puke. His leg was cramping up. He felt oddly detached from what was happening, almost like an out of body experience.

That’s what this is about to be if you don’t move!

Dash ran at a right angle to path of the truck, still away from the highway. Somewhere in the distance he thought he heard Astrid call his name, but the roar of the truck was a hundred times louder. He had to get outside the cone of those headlights, but it wouldn’t be easy. Max was swerving back and forth, whipping the wheel wildly, pounding on the horn. Dash couldn’t predict his path, couldn’t tell if he was running into danger or out of it. Max could drive back and forth across this field all night hunting him. Dash would run out of breath long before that maniac ran out of gas. But Dash would keep running until his legs gave out. It was all he could do now.

The truck passed behind him again, forty, fifty yards back, then came around in another wide circle.

Run. Run. Run.

Wide corn leaves slapped and slashed at Dash’s face. The truck was behind him again, coming his way.

Run. Run. Run.

Dash tripped, stumbled, and face-planted. Too weak to regain his feet, he heaved himself up to hands and knees and scrambled ahead on all fours like a manic toddler.

He was in an open space. Not out of the field. There was corn on every side, tall stalks looming around him like silent witnesses to an execution. With a start, he realized he was crawling over flattened corn plants. A whole circular section of the field was leveled, as if a tremendous round weight the size of a couple of grain silos had been set right down on top of it.

A real mystery, but Dash didn’t care. He was unexpectedly in the open, exposed, visible and he had to get away, hide, run.

Logic might have said duck back into the nearest line of corn, but panic was in charge now, so Dash staggered to his feet and started straight across the circle. He had to reach the other side, had to get away, had to—

“Got you!”

A flying form tackled Dash roughly to the ground. Strong hands rolled him over and then Billy was straddling his chest, pinning him to the earth, raining punch after punch down on Dash’s face.

“Damn near put my eye out!” raged Billy. “Gonna break your skull open!”

Blood erupted from Dash’s nose. Something crunched and broke. A starburst of pain filled his skull. His eyes went out of focus as Billy’s fists pounded his face again and again.

Max’s truck burst into the circle, opposite Dash and Billy, racing toward them. Max either didn’t see them or didn’t care, because he wasn’t slowing down.

Billy, with his arm cocked back for another punch, shouted something incoherent. Dash, unable to do anything else, closed his eyes, turned his head away and cringed, waiting for the big tires to grind him into paste.

Then the truck stopped. Completely.

All forward motion ended. The engine died and the lights went dark. It was as if the truck became stuck between moments of time, like a frame in a film that broke without warning.

A brilliant white light from above bathed the scene. It was brighter than the sun on the brightest day of summer. But it didn’t burn. Even with his eyes closed, Dash still saw that infinitely white light.

“No!” screamed Billy. “No!” And then he was gone, his weight no longer pressing down on Dash.

And Dash was floating.

Floating up.

Up into the light.


 

At last! We’re back to where this strange journey began. Now things start to get weird. Be here next episode, when Dash says: “Yow! Turn it off!”

Thanks for reading!

Dan McGirt

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Dash: Into Space! preview (part 5)

by RDM on July 27, 2012

We continue our draft preview of Dash: Into Space! If you just joined the read-along, you can catch up with Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.  Last episode, Dash had a study date with his dream girl, Astrid, that ended with Astrid walking Dash out to his car. Also there was a strange light in the sky…


Chapter 5: Head out on the Highway


Astrid recoiled. “What’s wrong?”

“Sorry,” said Dash, wincing at having said a swear word in front of the preacher’s daughter. “My car won’t start.” He turned the key again. “Dead battery. But I don’t know how.”

“You want me to jump you?” said Astrid.

“Errr…” replied Dash. His brain locked up as it tried to form a reply to what she obviously meant while picturing what he wished she meant. “Could you?”

“Sure! My Jeep’s in the garage. Have you got jumper cables? I do if not.”

“In the trunk,” said Dash.

Astrid jogged toward the house. Dash banged his head against the steering wheel. Bad enough he had to drive this pathetic junk pile. Now it was going out of its way to make him look like a loser. Stupid car!

Astrid backed her red Jeep Wrangler out of the garage while Dash retrieved his cables and propped open the hood.

Even with Astrid revving her engine, the Tercel wouldn’t turn over. After multiple tries, Dash gave up in disgust. Somehow the battery was completely drained. Or maybe the alternator was shot or a wire had come loose.

“No dice,” he said, shaking his head.

“Then hop in!” said Astrid. “I’ll drive you home. You can  come back and figure it out after church tomorrow.”

“Are you sure?” said Dash.

Astrid leaned out of the window and yelled to Mrs. Castor, who was watching from the front door. “Mama, we can’t get it to start! I’m taking Dash home!”

“Sweetheart, your father can—”

“He’s still at his meeting!” said Astrid.

“I’ll call him and see—”

Astrid rolled her eyes. “It’s twenty miles, Mama! I’ll be back in forty minutes!” To Dash, she said, “Let’s go!”

Dash stowed the battery cables and retrieved his bag. He hesitated a moment, then went back and fished out the pack of Tygers wedged under the driver’s seat. He stuffed the cigarettes in his backpack before climbing into the Jeep. Before he could fasten his seatbelt, Astrid backed up, turned around, and sped down Church Street.

Dash clutched the arm rest and glanced at the side mirror. The nearest vehicle was a pickup about four blocks back. Astrid tore down the neighborhood streets and pulled on to the highway.

“Sorry to put you to the trouble,” said Dash.

Astrid laughed. “No trouble. We just had to git before Mama remembered I’m supposed to be grounded.”

“Grounded?” Dash was surprised. “What for?”

“I got in a little argument with my dad.”

“Er, what about?” asked Dash. Wait! Did she only ask him over because she was grounded and couldn’t go out tonight?

Astrid shrugged. “Something stupid. Doesn’t matter.”

The lights of Plainsville became a dim glow behind them. The state highway cut across the prairie, a dark ribbon through dark fields beneath a dark bowl of night sky. The stars were distant, the moon thin and pale. Only the brilliant blaze of Astrid’s high beams cut through the gloom.

“Do you really think that was a meteor we saw?” said Astrid, nodding up at the sky with her adorable dimpled chin.

Dash shrugged. “Maybe a satellite. It was the wrong heading to be the International Space Station, though.”

Astrid giggled. “You know all about space too, don’t you?”

“A little,” said Dash. Was she calling him a nerd?

“I like stars,” said Astrid. “They’re so high above the world and all our problems. Stars are so peaceful, you know?”

“Well, stars are actually violent thermonuclear…” started Dash. “I mean, I like stars too. I’ve got an old telescope my aunt bought me at a flea market. Nothing great, but okay for backyard astronomy.”

“And you can see planets and all with it?”

“Sure. Kansas is real good for stargazing, because everything is so flat.” Present company excluded. “I know lots of constellations. Those three stars in a row, that’s Orion.”

“I don’t know any star names,” said Astrid. “Except the Hollywood kind. But I know all the kinds of clouds. I used to want to be a weather girl. You know, like on the news?”

Dash grinned. Yeah, he’d never miss Weather With Astrid. “I wanted to be an astronaut. Maybe go to Mars.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t ever go up in space!” said Astrid. “It’s so dangerous! Like all those poor people on Maiden One!”

“Yeah,” Dash nodded. “That was pretty bad.”

Maiden One, the first tourist space ship, was lost with all aboard a few months ago. No survivors. Burned up in the atmosphere, they said. Knocked out of orbit by a freak solar storm. Experts thought it might have crashed in the Pacific, but the Navy never found any debris. Dash was glad he never found that winning bottle cap in the Maiden Cola “Win a Flight on Maiden One’s Maiden Voyage” contest.

“I don’t want to be an astronaut anymore,” he said.

“Well, I don’t want to be a weather girl anymore either.”

They both laughed. It felt good, laughing with Astrid, being here, alone together, except for the stars. Suddenly, Dash remembered something. A thrill of expectation shivered through him as he said, “Hey, what was it you were going to ask—”

“Would you hand me my purse please?” said Astrid, cutting him off without meaning to.

“Uh…sure.” Dash leaned forward and felt down around his feet. He passed a fringed buckskin bag with turquoise beading to Astrid, who placed it between her legs and pawed through it until she found a cheap plastic lighter and a pack of Morleys.

“You smoke?” Dash blurted.

“Do you mind?” she asked. She cracked her window open, put a cigarette in her mouth, lit up, and did all this while keeping at least one hand on the wheel.

Dash didn’t know if he was excited, disappointed, or what to learn this about Astrid. But the familiar scent of burning tobacco, even with most of the smoke whipping out the window, made him crave a cigarette himself. Did he dare?

“I can’t do this at home,” she said. “My little brother would rat me out for sure.” She glanced sidelong at Dash. “What? You going to tell me I shouldn’t?”

Dash shook his head. He extracted his Tygers. “Nope.”

Astrid laughed. “Dash Garnet! You bad boy!” She passed him the lighter.

He grinned. “Yeah, that’s me.” You like the bad boys, right? Dash lit up, hoping he could keep it Nick Tyger smooth and not embarrass himself with a coughing fit. Sharing this rebellious secret with Astrid made him bold enough to ask, “So what did you want to ask me before?”

“Before?”

“Before my car wouldn’t start. You said you wanted to ask me something.” Like, maybe, am I seeing anyone? Which I am not.

“Oh, yeah,” said Astrid. “Yeah, I wanted to ask you if you know that new guy. Wren McCord.”

Wren McCord? What is it with everybody and stupid Wren McCord?

Astrid pressed a button on the console. The thumping bass of a hip-hop anthem blasted the Jeep’s interior, along with lyrics that would peel the paint off Reverend Castor’s pulpit.

Astrid recited the words in sync with the performer: “‘Rootin’ in the boot, bringin’ the heat-heat all up in the street-street! Like Maguire you complete me, stone cold fever, won’t never defeat me.’ I love Kenyay, don’t you? She turned the volume down. “Satellite radio. My dad has no idea what it can pick up.”

“I guess not,” said Dash.

“Anyway, do you know Wren? I don’t have any classes with him. But he dresses so cool, don’t you think? With those skinny 80s ties and the way he wears his hair all mussed?”

“I hadn’t noticed,” said Dash. He flipped his half-finished cigarette out the window, sullen. He immediately lit another, needing it.

“He’s the one who called in the ACLU for that lawsuit that’s got my dad and the council in a tizzy. Their stupid anti-dancing law is going down and I can’t wait!”

“Really?”

“I mean, how lame we can’t even have a prom?”

“I thought the ban was your dad’s idea in the first place.”

“Yeah, don’t remind me.” Astrid blew a long stream of smoke out the window. “No one in this stupid town had the balls to stand up to mighty Reverend Castor and his dumb law. Not until Wren McCord showed up.” Astrid took both hands off the wheel to flash some kind of gang sign. “First Amendment, bitches!”

“Uh…yeah,” said Dash.

“Do you know if he has a girlfriend?” said Astrid.

Dash coughed hard and flicked his new cigarette out the window. Wren McCord? He stared at the side mirror. Nothing but dark highway behind them. And nothing but dark highway ahead. “I have no idea,” he muttered.

“Well, it’s—Yipe!

The volume suddenly shot to full blast. The switched from station to station in rapid succession. Startled, Astrid jerked the wheel hard to the left, veering into the oncoming lane. Dash was smacked against the door.

Astrid cut back to the right lane, overcorrecting and running off on to the shoulder. The radio continued to cycle through channels, quickly reaching the Sports and Talk end of the spectrum. Then it went silent. At the same time the headlights and dashboard went dark and the engine cut out. The Jeep coasted to a stop on the side of the road.

“Oh my God, what was that!” shrieked Astrid. “What was that? What happened? Oh my God, I’m shaking!”

Dash was too. His pulse was pounding. He gripped the door handle so hard his hand cramped. He had thought Astrid was going to roll the Jeep and kill them both.

Astrid turned the key. “It won’t start! What just happened? What just happened? It isn’t supposed to just stop!” She banged on the steering wheel with both hands.

“Are you out of gas?” asked Dash.

“No!” she shouted. “No! I filled it up today!”

Dash took a deep breath. “Must be an electrical short,” he said. “A wire broke or something came loose.”

“Can you fix it?”

“I can look. Pop the hood. Do you have a flashlight?”

“I think so. In the back,” said Astrid.

Dash stepped out of the Jeep. The night air was chilly. He raised the hood, but could see only shadowy shapes.

“Flashlight?” he said.

“I found it, but the battery is dead!” said Astrid.

“Maybe your phone?”

Astrid rummaged through her purse. “My phone is dead too!” she said, starting to lose it again. “We can’t even call for help! Why is this happening?”

“We’ll be all right,” said Dash, though he wasn’t sure of it.

“Look, someone is coming! We have to flag them down!”

“Okay,” said Dash. The vehicle was about a mile back, coming from the direction of Plainsville. It was odd he hadn’t noticed the lights before. You could see a long way out here.

Astrid and Dash stood behind the Jeep. As the vehicle got closer, Dash saw it was a pickup truck. At a couple hundred yards out, its headlights found the Jeep. The truck slowed and pulled onto the shoulder about twenty feet behind them. The driver failed to dim the high beams, forcing Dash and Astrid to shield their eyes with upraised arms.

“Kind of a jerk,” said Astrid, squinting.

“Yeah,” said Dash. Without thinking, he stepped in front of Astrid. She clutched his shoulder nervously. Any other time, Dash would have been thrilled to feel Astrid’s hand on him. But right now he was almost as scared as she was.

A door opened. The pickup’s driver, an indistinct outline behind the bright glare, stood up on the running board.

“Looky here!” he said. “We caught us a couple of lovebirds!”

“Max?” said Astrid.

“I’m dead,” said Dash.


Uh-oh! Things are not looking good for Dash at all. Be here next episode, when Max says: “You can’t run forever!”

Thanks for reading!

Dan McGirt

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Dash: Into Space! preview (part 4)

by RDM on July 19, 2012

For those just joining, you can read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 to catch up. In the last episode we saw Dash at home on the farm. Now Dash has a date (okay, study date) with his dream girl, Astrid…


Chapter 4: Biology Lesson


Dash parked on Church Street in front of the Castor residence, careful not to scrape his hubcaps against the curb. He checked his hair in the rearview. He crunched down on a breath mint and swallowed the bits.

The Castor house was a two-story clapboard in Plainsville. A few skinny trees dotted the neatly kept front lawn. Reverend Castor’s Lincoln Town Car was parked in the driveway. Dash was halfway up the walk when the front door opened and the minister himself emerged. He was in his late forties, his hairline in full retreat. In a dark suit, white shirt, and black tie he looked like he was about to conduct a funeral.

“Oh, hello there, Dash!” said Castor. Dash remembered to look him in the eye as they shook hands. “My daughter mentioned you were coming over. It is so kind of you to tutor Astrid for her science class.”

Tutor? What happened to study buddies? “Oh, sure thing, Reverend Castor. Glad to do it.”

“I wish I could stay, but I’m off to an emergency meeting of the town council. It seems the ACLU has filed suit against our ordinance banning lewd music and dancing here in Plainsville. We had no idea the First Amendment applied to small towns who are simply trying to protect our children from the dangers of music and dance. None!” He shook his head sadly. “Fighting a lawsuit could drain the town treasury.”

“Sure sounds complicated, Reverend Castor.”

“What do you think, Dash? Do you agree with the prohibition against dancing?”

“Well…um…I don’t dance, that’s for sure.”

“I’m glad to hear it! So many of our young people have been infected with a rebellious spirit lately. It troubles me. I blame that new boy, Wren McCord. Do you know him?”

“I…no. I really don’t.”

“No, of course you wouldn’t. He’s a troublemaker, I can tell. Not like you. Do tell your aunt and uncle I said hello.”

“I will.”

Reverend Castor sighed as he settled into his car. “I thought we had this problem licked when the record store closed. I thought the kids would settle down once they had no way to access corrupting music.”

“Except iTunes,” said Dash.

“Except you tune what?” asked Castor, puzzled.

“Er…never mind,” said Dash. “Have a good meeting, sir.”

“Thank you, Dash.”

Mrs. Castor, a slender woman with short blonde hair, appeared at the front door to wave goodbye to her husband as he drove away. “Do come in, Dash,” she said. “I’ll tell Astrid you’re here.”

Dash thought Mrs. Castor looked like an older version of Astrid, which made sense, her being Astrid’s mom and all. She led Dash to the living room, called upstairs to Astrid, then said, “Would you like some apple pie, Dash? I baked it today.”

“That would be great, Mrs. Castor. Thanks.”

She disappeared into the kitchen. Dash sat fidgeting on the couch. He heard footsteps and looked up to see Astrid descending the stairs like an angel from the clouds. She wore pink sneakers, stretchy jeans, and an open denim vest over a pink t-shirt. There were words written across her chest in sequins, but  Dash couldn’t read them. He was rendered momentarily illiterate by the way Astrid’s breasts bounced as she came down the stairs. Astrid seemed to move in glorious slow motion, like the way they say everything slows down during a car crash.

“Dash, would you like milk with your pie?” called Mrs. Castor from the kitchen.

“Yes, please,” Dash choked out.

Astrid paused at the bottom of the stairs. She looked almost startled to see Dash there. Not without effort, he dragged his reluctant gaze up to Astrid’s pretty heart-shaped face. Her long strawberry blonde hair was swept back with a pair of plastic combs. A few stray ringlets fluttered against her cheek.

Lucky, lucky ringlets.

“Hi, Dash,” said Astrid. Her pale blue eyes met his.

Dash felt an expanding cloud of butterflies swell through his chest at the sound of Astrid speaking his name. He sprang to his feet, too fast, and banged his shin on the coffee table, almost overturning several ceramic figurines of geese and sheep.

“Uh..hi, Astrid,” he said, needlessly stooping to steady the table. “You look very…er, pink.”

“Thanks?” she said, scrunching up her face in bemusement. She nodded toward the next room. “I’m all spread out on the dining room table.”

“Wh-what?” said Dash.

“My books are in the dining room. Come on.”

Dash nodded mutely and followed Astrid like a puppy chasing a ball.

***

“Mitochondria!” said Astrid.

“Yep,” said Dash, nodding.

Three hours passed quickly. At first Dash was tongue-tied by the overwhelming awesomeness and awkwardness of sitting beside Astrid. But once they started discussing the parts and processes of cells, Dash was more at ease. He was good at science. He knew this stuff. He could explain it to others.

Dash recalled Max’s “dumb bunny” comment about Astrid. But she was no dummy. Not that she was Marie Curie or whatever, but she asked good questions and listened intently as Dash explained the function of each cell part, from the membrane to the organelles to the nucleus. Their textbook wasn’t the best and Mr. Randall’s lectures were pretty fast-paced. If you didn’t already know what he was talking about, it was easy to get confused.

Dash did his best to focus on the studying. Sure, an electric thrill ran through him every time their feet accidentally touched or their arms brushed together, and he had to resist the urge to look down her shirt whenever Astrid leaned over the table. But Astrid seemed not to notice. She just wanted to learn the chapter.

It was a relief, really. So long as they were talking biology, Dash didn’t have to wonder what to say or worry about saying the wrong thing or trying to get out some smooth line.

It also kind of took the pressure off that Mrs. Castor was hovering just out of sight the whole evening. She served Dash dessert and retreated to the kitchen. She reappeared later to offer them popcorn and orange juice. Dash never felt like he was actually alone with Astrid. So it was all science and cytoplasm and RNA. At the end, Dash quizzed Astrid by pointing at a cell diagram so she could name and explain the function of each part. She got them all right but two.

“You’ll ace the quiz,” said Dash.

Astrid beamed. “You’re a good explainer, Dash! You made it, like, so much more understandable. Thanks!”

“Uh…sure. You’re welcome. It was fun studying you. With you! Well, as fun as studying gets anyway.”

Astrid laughed. “Yeah.”

“But, I guess I better get home. Church tomorrow.” He grinned.

“Right,” said Astrid. “Well, I’ll walk you out to your car.”

Really? Dash felt panic sweep over him. What does that mean? Am I supposed to kiss her? Is she just being polite? What do I do? What do I say? Help!

“Okay,” he said. Yeah, that was smooth.

Dash gathered his books, said goodbye to Mrs. Castor, and followed Astrid to the front door. He happened to glance up as he stepped outside, just in time to see a big blue ball of light zip across the western sky. It moved like a shooting star across the dark horizon, but it was bigger than any he had ever seen. Then it was gone as if it never existed.

As it passed, all the lights on Church Street flickered off for a second, then came back on. In windows, on porches, the street lamps—everything.

“Whoa! Did you see that?” said Dash, pointing to the sky.

“I did!” said Astrid, clutching his arm in excitement. This  sent a warm shiver right up the back of his neck. “What was it? A comet?”

“No,” said Dash, shaking his head. “Meteor, maybe. Or some kind of static discharge, I guess.”

“You mean lightning?” said Astrid, cocking her head prettily.

“Yeah,” Dash nodded, impressed that she knew what he meant.

Now Astrid pointed up, shaking her head. “No clouds.”

“True,” said Dash. He shrugged. “I’ve never seen anything like that before.”

Astrid closed the front door behind her and walked with Dash to his car. “Do you think we’ll see another?” She craned her head up. Dash studied the line of her neck and wondered how soft her skin was. She smelled like lavender and some other flower he didn’t know the name of.

“If it’s a meteor shower, we might see more,” said Dash doubtfully. He glanced up. “But I don’t think so.”

Astrid looked at him and smiled and bit her lower lip in a way that drove Dash crazy. They stood together in the street, next to the Tercel. The light in the sky had distracted Dash from his panic and confusion, but now those feelings returned. Should he make a move? Was she waiting for him to? Or was he reading too much into this? Astrid was super hot, but also super nice. Maybe she was just being nice walking out with him. Or maybe this was his big chance to…no, that was crazy! Wasn’t it?

“Thanks again,” said Astrid. “I really appreciate you coming over.”

Astrid hugged him. Dash froze like a baby caribou that had just wandered into a clearing full of wolves. Then, a beat too slowly, he returned the hug. Was I supposed to kiss her just then? Argh! Why is this so complicated?

Astrid stepped back. “See you at church,” she said.

“Yeah,” said Dash. He was at once disappointed at no kiss, excited he would see Astrid again in a mere twelve hours, and relieved to know exactly what to do next: get in his car and go home.

Astrid motioned for him lower the window. Dash rolled it down by hand—nothing automatic in this car—as he turned the key.

“Dash,” said Astrid, leaning down into the open window. “There is something I wanted to ask you. Do you—”

“Damn!” said Dash.


 

I wonder what the problem is?

Be sure to check back for the next episode, when Astrid shrieks:  “Oh, my God! What was that!”

Best regards,
Dan McGirt

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Dash: Into Space! preview (part 3)

by RDM on July 16, 2012

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

The preview of book-in-progress Dash: Into Space! continues with Chapter 3. This is the first chapter in which the truly discerning and perceptive reader might figure out where I’m going with this. And you’ll be right! Until you’re wrong…

If you missed previous episodes, read Part 1 and Part 2.  In the last episode we saw Dash at Plainsville High School. We now get a glimpse of Dash’s life at home on the farm…


Chapter 3: Down on the Farm


SATURDAY
The Eggle Farm

“My life stinks!” said Dash. [click to continue…]

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Dash: Into Space! preview (part 2)

by RDM on July 12, 2012

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

We continue the preview of my new work-in-progress Dash: Into Space!  If you need to catch up,  read Part 1 here. Last episode Dash was in a strange place. We resume the story at Plainsville High School…


Chapter 2: Getting Schooled


EARLIER…
Plainsville High School
Plainsville, Kansas

“You’re dead, Garnet! Dead, dead, dead!” [click to continue…]

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Dash: Into Space! preview (part 1)

by RDM on July 10, 2012

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

I decided to take a “break” between Noble Cause and Royal Crush to write something new and different–I’m calling this book-in-progress Dash: Into Space!  I’m not giving too much away when I say it concerns alien abduction. (Fear not, Jason Cosmo fans, I’m actually working on Royal Crush concurrently. But since it is a revision of Royal Chaos it isn’t entirely “new”.)

I have a rough plot in mind for DIS, and a cast of characters ready to appear. I know it will be an adventure-comedy, but in a science fiction mode, rather than fantasy, like my previous books. Well, science fantasy might be closer to the truth. No one will mistake this for hard SF.  Believe me–I won’t be calculating any orbital equations.  I just want to write a silly, fun, entertaining story. But exactly where I will set the Sillymeter for this one will emerge in the course of writing it.

I’m ten chapters into the book at present. This is a first draft, so any or all of what I’ve written so far may get scrapped. Or, indeed, I may shelve the whole book if I don’t feel it is working. But, hey, Loyal Reader, I’ll let you help decide the fate of Dash: Into Space! by sharing some excerpts of this work in progress. Here is (the first draft of) Chapter 1. If you got this as a preview on your e-reader, would you want to read more? Let me know what you think! [click to continue…]

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New Projects

by RDM on July 9, 2012

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

Time to check in with you again. A few things to mention. First, my mom and I were in the paper recently. We were interviewed for an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution called “e-Books getting the words out”. The able reporter did a good job of reporting on how ebook publishing empower authors to take charge of their writing careers and connect directly with readers in ways that were not possible (or at least much more difficult) in the pre-ebook era. Whether it is re-releasing previously published books or publishing all-new works without having to wait around for Big Publishing to get a clue, this is a great time to be an author. The tools are there for those who learn how to use them–as more and more authors are each day.

As for my own authoring, my summer projects are writing a new book, Dash: Into Space! and the next Jason Cosmo book, Royal Crush (a revision of the classic Royal Chaos). I’m also editing my mother’s novel Devil Moon for reissue as an ebook. Enough to keep me busy!

I was also thrilled to be contacted by REDACTED to inquire about my interest in writing REDACTED for REDACTED. Yeah, can’t say much about it, but there may be a fun side project in the offing.

One more thing — my ebook titles are on sale at Smashwords through July 31.

Hope you’re enjoying your summer! (Or winter, south of the equator.)

Best regards,

Dan McGirt

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