GENRE: Gay Science Fiction Romance
LENGTH: 39,971 words
Book 4 of the Cecilian Blue-Collar Chronicles
It’s been a while since Sheridan’s spent time with Yuli Soulweaver, who, in the last moment before he left Sheridan’s side, appeared to have been drugged or caught in a terrible spell that left the prince ill and barely functional. With wish-granting knight Clonia also out of the picture, Sheridan’s left floundering for answers. Then, after what should have been a nice, relaxing time with his little brother, Sheridan’s world goes into a tailspin when Adley’s kidnapped by Sheridan’s tormentors and held hostage.
The demand is for Sheridan to bring Yuli back, which means Yuli has vanished from the land of the dead, and no one -- especially Sheridan -- knows his whereabouts. Now Sheridan, Milo, and Grandma Janet are forced into a race against time while the door between the two worlds opens farther, and Cecilia’s Earthling colony is suddenly attracting the wrong kind of underworld attention.
Sheridan didn’t realize he’d been making a face the whole time he listened to Conrad’s message until Grandma Janet said something about it.
“Young man, if a wind were to blow on you right now, your face would freeze in that horrible expression forever. And nothing gets my dead dander up like a sweet-faced kid like you turning into a gargoyle for no good reason other than shit luck, wind-wise.”
“Well, hell,” Sheridan grumbled, relaxing a tad. At least the scrunched-up look vanished, though his anxiety held steady after subsiding to a more tolerable level. He thought he heard his grandmother let out a relieved little sound. “The Brendisians are on it now.”
“Not everyone, apparently. The interns are interested, not the real scientists. If it’s any comfort, hardly anyone among the aliens gives a shit about moving objects and talking furniture and electromagnetic spikes,” Milo replied. “We can still sort through all of this stuff with no one else knowing jack about what really happened. Maybe we can finally put an end to all the weirdness when everything’s said and done -- and then get on with our boring-ass lives without breathing a word of this to anyone. Know what I mean?”
Sheridan nodded vaguely. His hoped-for retreat slowly came into view, and he went straight for it, not once breaking his focus. “Easier said than done, though. We’ve got zero control over sudden monster attacks now that we know who’s behind all of this, and they know that we know, and they’re also getting pretty damned desperate. I’m using ‘know’ too much, but you know what I’m trying to say, I’m sure. See? I did it again.”
Sheridan’s communicator let out another message alert, and Milo checked it. “Uh -- those interns are back,” he said. “Want me to take the call?”
“Nah. Let them leave a message. I’ve got a feeling they love talking about this shit. Let them unload. We can always ignore them for now.”
“Wouldn’t it be ironic if Brendisian technology turned out to be the key we need to solve Yuli’s disappearance and all of this bizarre hocus-pocus stuff up here?”
Sheridan snorted as he guided Old Myrna down. “Ironic would be an understatement.”
“Good evening, Cecilian. Conrad here -- again. If you don’t mind my insistence in reaching you, I’m back to emphasize just how important it is for me to gather data from you. Please note the use of a singular pronoun in this instance. A mere two minutes and eight seconds after contacting you the first time, a bit of an unfortunate event happened, and my colleague, Augustus, has been turned into what can only be described as a lycanthrope. If my reading up on your species’ mythologies and legends is an indication, a lycanthrope is quite terrifying and might need to be put down with a silver bullet if no help arrives in time, and the process has turned permanent and made my colleague feral.
“For the time being, I’ve sedated poor Augustus, and the newly transformed -- and rather hairy and smelly -- creature is safely in a padded cell Rosamund and I have improvised with the staff lab coats and too many boxes of staples. Yes, we’re still in the Brendisian Embassy, specifically in the Department of All Things Cecilian Science, which is in the basement of the embassy building. As of now, no one else knows of Augustus’ transformation, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t take long for other spontaneous, Halloween-like events to happen up and down the colony proper. Then it will do us little good, keeping our superiors in the dark any longer as to poor Augustus’ condition. Do return my call as soon as you can. I’ve yet to find out what lycanthropes require for sustenance, and I’ve got a feeling I’m not going to like it one bit.”
Silence fell on the group for what felt like a stretch of ten eternities to Sheridan. Old Myrna touched down with a nice, gentle, smooth bump, and her engine was killed. More silence followed, and Sheridan had to glance around to see if any of his companions were still breathing. They were. They also appeared to share the same line of thinking as Sheridan, judging from the looks on their faces. Even Clonia appeared to have been bitten by the shock-horror bug. If one were to be very specific about that look on the perpetually deadpan knight, it would be described -- in quaint old Earth terms, that is -- as lower case “o,” underscore, underscore, underscore, capital “o.”
“If I were alive right now, I’d have soaked my old person diapers after hearing that,” Grandma Janet stammered, breaking the spell in the worst possible way.
“Okay, then,” Sheridan said. “Let’s eat.”
He and Milo unbuckled in record time, jumped out of their seats, and dove right into their hot dog dinners like a pair of starving jackals fighting over a small carcass. Hybrid hot dogs were a blessing, indeed, if Sheridan’s momentary amnesia regarding the eroding world upstairs was any indication. As far as he was concerned, nothing existed just then beyond still-hot hybrid hot dogs, chips, and drinks.
This book was published on January 24, 2016.