Alpha Tales 2044 is a collection of short stories set in a future after climate change and weaponized plagues have devastated much of our planet. It continues the adventures of characters from three earths now bound together in flight from a humanity fearful of what these other-world humans might spread among us, especially the religious beliefs of Beta and Serapin earths. The band escapes into a secret city in British Columbia and then the Canadian wilderness. These are stories of mystery, murder, espionage, harsh survival in a winter wilderness, not to mention adventures with a Sasquatch.
Behind the scenes, U.S. President-For-Life John Gardner has his own plans for capturing the aliens, especially the ones with mutant abilities. It’s a batch of stories full of the unexpected, surprises, and thrills.
Targeted Age Group:: YA and adult audiences
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 2 – PG
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I introduced a batch of characters in Book 6 of the Beta-Earth Chronicles which set the stage for these stories. It was fun to take the next generation of the Renbourn tribe and bring them to our planet, a world dramatically different from what we know. Mostly, I just loved these characters, their relationships sparked in Return to Alpha, and what they are going to mean to our future.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The characters who grew up on Beta-Earth are the children of parents featured in the first four books of the Beta-Earth Chronicles. Two were born and raised on Serapin Earth. Toss in friendly humans from our planet the Renbourn aliens met in The Citadel, a mysterious prison somewhere in the mid-West of the U.S.
Without missing a beat, Captain Mary Ward Carpenter spun left at the corner of Maple and Wolfe and strode up the right side of the two-lane Wolf Alley. Not pausing for a single moment, Mary scanned the mostly empty corner Dallas drinking institution called the Maple Point on her right and the small strip mall that sat behind the bar.
What a sad little sight, that shopping strip. Most of the small shops had closed long ago. The only store still open was the battle-scarred Mustafa’s Islamic Place, Clothing for Brothers and Sisters. The store looked much different from any other establishment in Dallas, Texas, or anywhere else Mary knew of. That was because Mustafa had been forced to build a foot-thick, ceiling-high concrete-block façade around every inch of his store.
The extra protection had become necessary in the wake of so many vigilante attacks on anything Islamic after the waves and waves of weaponized plagues the Holy Allah Movement had released on the Western world. That organization and its countless affiliates thought the horrors of Twenty-First Century climate change weren’t enough punishment for the hated god-less infidels.
However, what the perpetrators of these murderous plagues hadn’t reckoned on was how the viruses they created couldn’t stay contained in infidel lands.
Instead, they would be even more devastating in the home breweries of the Middle East.
Worse, the artificial viruses spread so quickly, mutated even faster, and replicated themselves at an astonishing, alarming rate resulting in whole towns, cities, communities, and especially the regions already impacted by the horrors of coastal flooding and global warming were wiped out.
No wonder the planet of Alpha-Earth was full of hot anger and unrelenting fear. No wonder even innocent, backstreet Islamic businesses were targets of revenge-minded Westerners.
So Mustafa’s little store had been hit with bombs, bricks, bullets, and graffiti to the point the ugly gray concrete shell had to be erected around it just to keep the shop more or less intact. It’s too bad, Mary thought, as she walked up to Mustafa’s front door, that the neighborhood couldn’t know the boney shop owner in the thick, wire-rimmed glasses was, in fact, a double agent reporting to her, a Captain in the DIPU, the Dallas Infiltrator Police Unit. No one in his Mosque, as far as Mary knew, was aware that Mustafa was a traitor to the cause of planet-wide purification.
Stepping onto the store’s curb before the bullet-proof door, Mary patted two of her waist-belt pouches reassuringly.
Her old private joke bounced around her mind – that she was wearing a utility belt much like that old, very old costumed superhero, Batman. But Mary didn’t feel much like a superhero. She never did. She didn’t feel like a vigilante either, cape and cowl or no cape and cowl. Instead, vigilantes were her ongoing enemies.
As she walked through Mustafa’s front door, the tall, lean, darkly tanned Syrian male peered through his thick glasses at her. Standing purposefully behind the counter, he thought again how that Texas beauty stirred up so many impure thoughts in his soul, especially because of her magnetic long, loose, thick, lustrous, deep-shaded auburn hair she was constantly brushing off her face. Gratefully, the captain of the DIPU who Mustafa reported to did her best to underplay her feminine charms. By his standards, Mary was much more modest than most Western women.
Just over six feet tall, Mary let her usually guarded expressions signal she didn’t give a damn about any male’s responses to her. Her very large and dark brown eyes seemed to look straight through anyone who took too much time gazing at her high cheekbones, well-sculpted figure, or the long legs she made no effort to show off. She used only the most basic of make-up with nothing so feminine as using any colored nail polish. For her, her nails were natural weapons, sharp slicing scalpels that would punish any advances by males who thought a bit too much of themselves. She liked it that most men found her physically intimidating. Especially the young gangsters and street thugs who weren’t frightened by much else.
Mustafa’s attention didn’t linger on Mary but instead he studied a customer standing before him. Obviously, she was a Westerner as Mustafa was telling her, “Our Quran corrects your Bible. We believe in the same God.”
Mary wanted to snort, remembering her first conversation with Mustafa on that very point. “What an arrogant thing to tell a Christian!” she had retorted.
“To tell us our Bible needs correcting!”
“Correcting Holy Scripture,” Mustafa had replied with warm, scholarly tones, “has been part of history since the beginning. Doesn’t your new Testament correct the Old? What happened to all your apocrypha? The Book of Mormon? All those never-ending translations resulting in so many interpretations of Allah’s will?”
Mary smiled with the memory of that unresolved and innocent debate between people of good will, of which there were too few any more. She shook her head and brushed away the hair that had fallen down her face. Once again, her eyes wandered around the store, taking in the racks and display counters of modest Islamic Abaya, Hijab, Jilbab, Thob, and Kofi women’s clothing, a variety of Prayer Rugs, Attar & Body Oils, Incense, Black Seed, Soaps, and of course shelves and shelves of books and discs of Arabic music and films.
Then Mustafa came around the counter to show his customer a copy of the Quran in English. But, suddenly, he began to shake and his jaw dropped as if it had lost control of itself. Mustafa dropped the book in his hand, the woman screamed, and she began to quickly back away toward the door.
To her horror, Mary saw Mustafa’s eyes explode behind his eyeglass lenses. His skin began to split open like a desert landscape being torn apart by seas of earthquakes. The splits tore up his cheeks, his forehead, his arms. Blood dripped in rivers and darkened his clothes, socks, and shoes.
Instinctively, Mary popped open one of her waist-belt pouches and pulled out a gauze face mask, two nose plugs, and two plastic gloves. She too began backing for the door as she pulled on the protective items. She wanted to gag. This was the first time she’d ever seen the Damascus virus erupt like this. Yes, she had walked through towns and communities where corpses had littered the sidewalks, parking lots, and streets. She remembered the movie clip from that old Monty Python film. The scene where a soldier pulled a cart around a street during the ancient black plague calling out, “Bring out your dead!” Bong.
“Bring out your dead!” Bong.
In real life, those atrocious sights Mary witnessed came after the various, often unnamed plagues, had done their work.
Mary had watched as med-bots scooped and shoved bodies and body parts onto hearse-sleds and trucks to take them to large crematoriums to be burned as quickly as possible. Often, these corpses were burned anonymously in the haste to purge as many infectious bodies as could be done in the often vain hope to save
the families of the doomed.
This was America? Well, it was what America had become.
Many chilling memories flooded Mary’s mind as the still walking body of Mustafa lumbered toward her, his arms stretching out for her. She knew he was already a mindless creature acting instinctively, not with any remaining intelligence. She opened the other large pouch on her belt and pulled her tube-shaped Stunner out of its holster. She aimed the tube at Mustafa’s chest. She pushed the setting to stun. Yes, Mustafa was already dead and nothing she did could be considered murder. All she wanted was for the gyrating body to fall away from her. She pulled the trigger and a wide yellow beam shot out and pushed Mustafa back against the counter which toppled behind him. Man and counter crashed together on the floor.
Mary turned and raced out the front door, being certain to touch nothing except where her gloves pushed against that door. She hurried back to Maple Street and was nearly back at the corner of Maple and Wolf when she heard a large explosion behind her.
Looking back to where she had just been, Mary’s eyes widened and her jaw dropped. Mustafa’s building blew up in one huge explosion. A fiery red and yellow plume reached skyward through the roof as the walls below were so thickly protected. The rain of dust and building bits carried as far as the corner where Mary’s knees shook. What the hell? I didn’t see anything like a large bomb in there. Hell, the only image filling Mary’s mind was the disintegration of Mustafa’s body.
Questions flew all through her consciousness. How was it Mustafa died just at the moment when he was preparing to give Mary what she had come for, a list of names of new recruits in the Holy Allah Movement in Texas? Why the explosion? Was it to kill Mustafa, Mary, both of them, or just strike a blow against the Islamic population by Dallas vigilantes? With very different possible motives, this mystery would start with a wide net of very different kinds of suspects with completely different goals and agendas. Islamic terrorist, anti-Islamic terrorists, maybe both. With a strong tug of guilt, Mary realized Mustafa’s death had clearly saved her life. If he hadn’t started to break apart before her eyes, that explosion would have taken her along with all the wares on the walls, racks, shelves, and display cases.
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