Sunday, August 19, 2018

Surviving Immortality Excerpt

I’m very pleased to announce that my latest novel, Surviving Immortality, is available in paperback and any eBook format, at:

Dreamspinner Press Publications

This is a story of discovering the fountain of youth, and the upheaval that breakthrough brings to our slightly crazed, slightly paranoid, overly greedy society.

When Kenji Hiroshige discovers a formula that will keep people youthful and healthy for several thousand years, he tells the world he will not divulge his formula until every gun, tank, battleship, and bomb has been destroyed. When the world is free of weapons, everyone can live forever. And then he goes into hiding.

Before he disappears, his stepson Matt is exposed to the formula. Kenji takes Matt on the run with him, but as they struggle to elude both government agencies and corporations who will do anything to profit from Kenji’s discovery, Matt learns that world peace might not be his stepfather’s only goal. There may be a darker purpose at work. But what can a young man who’s barely stepped foot off his isolated ranch do in the face of something so sinister?

This is the story of human greed and man’s lust for violence. It’s the story of a world on the brink of destruction, but it’s also a tale of a young man who finds in himself the will, courage, and compassion to stand against the darkness—both outside and within himself.

This is a story of hope.

Consuela was dead. It was a fact, a simple truth connecting other truths. All he had to do was follow the facts backward and see where they led. He consulted his inner reserves and realized he had taken part in murder. He was a teenager, who believed all life was sacred, now as guilty as biblical Cain, and how ironic his choice of new names.
He avoided consciously blaming Kenji, but in the same heartbeat he knew he had to get the hell out of there before Kenji returned. He needed a plan, to change whatever lay in front of him. He tried to take a calming breath but came up short.
He leaned forward, planted his hands on his knees, and sucked air into unyielding lungs. He felt a familiar pressure in the back of his esophagus, and he coughed, long rasping coughs that clogged his windpipe with mucus.
“Oh”—he drew a shallow breath—“fuck.” He dropped the remote as a nervy rush pushed him into a survival response. He had to find a place with enough air, and quickly.
He ripped open the front door and ran for the stairs, already dizzy from lack of oxygen. He flew down to the first floor, unaware Groucho was following him.
He dashed into sunshine. Several people on the street backed away. Groucho whimpered at his side. Heads turned in unison to stare at him. It was alarming to be so intensely visible at the moment he felt most vulnerable.
A homeless person crouched on the pavement a few feet away, scratching distractedly at whatever was crawling in his beard. He shouted, “Praise the Lord. The little green men have landed. Take me to your leader!”
Through his panic he saw a door, the closest one, and he dashed for it, ripped it open, and lunged through. A bell over the door chimed as he pitched forward and fell to his knees on a black-and-white checkered tile floor. He struggled to suck air into his lungs. His head spun. He knew he was moments away from blacking out.
Arms hug him from behind. A voice said, “Relax, cowboy. Breathe with me, nice and easy.” Someone removed his Stetson and set it on the floor beside him.
He could do nothing beyond trying to draw air. Someone laid him out flat on his back and lifted his head. He opened his eyes, and a flash of overhead lighting distorted everything into a Magoo-like blur. As his vision cleared, he saw a dark-hooded figure hovering over him, and he could feel an icy touch on the back of his neck. Within the recesses of that shadowy hood hovered a red, mutilated face surrounding gentle smoke-colored eyes under silky lashes.
Is this the Grim Reaper?
Fear caused a sick shrinking in his heart from the knowledge that he was dying.
That face lowered until those marred lips touched his and air pushed past the blockage in his throat. Oxygen inflated his lungs. As if standing at the edge of a cliff preparing to plunge, his mind delayed, struggling with the shock of coming back alive.
That face breathed more life into him a second and third time. He coughed, spitting phlegm, and inhaled on his own. He stared into that face, noting the black hair across the forehead, the coppery skin on one side, the rough, ugly, plum-colored scars on the other, and the wispy facial hair that was still a week’s growth away from being considered a beard. Matt Reece was caught in that chemic gaze as the Grim Reaper cradled his head like a newborn, smiling down with such tenderness that it loosened the muscles clinching his chest. Time stopped. Nothing else existed.
“You’re the cowboy everybody’s looking for.” His voice was soft with an Indian lilt to its American accent, slightly melodious, sounding like a flute that could form words.
“How… did you…?”
“It’s all over Twitter, cowboy, how your grandpa turned green as an avocado, and how you and your stepdad are the new Osama bin Ladens. You’re like, infamous.”
“I’m someone else. I’m Kirby. Kirby Cain.”
A dimple appeared on the coppery side of the Grim Reaper’s face. “Who’d have guessed such an unobtrusive-looking boy could be public enemy number one?”
“Who are you?”
“Vishal Mandial.”
“From India? Man, that’s cool.”
“My parents immigrated from India. But I was born here. And people don’t say ‘cool’ even on Haight Street. You say ‘beautiful’ or if it’s something really spectacular you say ‘sick.’ Coming from Mumbai only merits a shrug of the shoulders.”
Matt Reece glanced around the shop, a patchouli-oil-scented space heavy with sitar music. He saw racks of clothing, shelves holding pipes and other drug paraphernalia, posters of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, and statues of Ganesh, the elephant with many arms. Groucho lay by the door, inching toward him. He brought his gaze back to Vishal, who seemed Patrick’s age, and wore a coal-gray hoody sweatshirt with the words “Sinner’s Gin” stenciled across the front.
“Your face?” Matt Reece said, reaching up and touching the mesh of scars.
“My father fell asleep on the couch with a lit cigarette. I tried to put him out.”
Now that he was breathing normally, he detected Vishal’s scent—clean and carnal, with the hint of some exotic spice Matt Reece imagined as curry. Matt Reece wanted to ask if he had saved his father but thought that seemed too personal a question.
“You kissed me.”
“Yeah, well, that’s how I roll. Give me a pretty-faced cowboy and I lose control and snog the hell out of him.” He laughed, again sounding like a living flute. “Is that your dog?”
Matt Reece nodded. “His name is Groucho.”
Vishal helped Matt Reece to his feet and placed the Stetson on his head. His legs felt rubbery, but Vishal wrapped an arm around his waist to help him stand. Now Matt Reece saw much more than his face—the compact V of his torso, the hip clothes, the casual grace with which he moved. His hands, like his face, were red scars, as if coming forth from a furnace. A young prince deformed, seemingly incapable of cruelty or love.

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