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Twisted Tails - Two - Volume I
Time on our Hands
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-434-0
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Fantasy/SF/Science Fiction
eBook Length: 199 Pages
Published: March 2007
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Total Readers: 3

From inside the flap

Does time exist as a separate dimension? Does it have a unique place with definable limits in space? Does it move independently according to its own purpose? Or does it only move when other things move, completely dependent on prevailing conditions and binding dimensions in its surrounding space-a causal result bound to the whole? Perhaps it’s just a simpleminded construct humans have concocted to explain the inexplicable. Is it vaguely possible that it’s a set of branes slightly out of sync and we may pass from one to the next at will? Maybe it’s a simple kink in dimensions that can be crossed by anyone walking in precisely the right direction. It could be that it’s just a mental state altered simply by a minor amount of imagination applied correctly. Perhaps it is no more than a drug- or mantra-induced change of mental state-something hallucinated-something seen but unseeable. Or is there more to it than we can fathom? In the world of physics, all of this-and much more-is being looked into by serious, conservative scientists as well as those with their mental equipment more loosely adjusted-or even unfastened completely, their brains rolling about like marbles in an empty railroad freight car.

Whatever time is, it is a concept that has fascinated our species since we became capable of contemplating more than just our navels or being eaten by hungry predators. We consider the future, the present, and the past-how they may all relate and...interrelate. We wonder what it all means or if it means anything at all.

All of the following stories pursue these and other ideas-each in its own way. Time gives way to the authors’ imaginings in ways astounding. Amazing flights abound as they probe orthodox disciplines in physics combined with unorthodox musings, stretching the envelope all the way to the breaking point, or take fanciful flights of mind into the unknown realm of ethereal time, gleefully, sometimes flippantly breaking the bonds of "real" science-whatever that means. There are even times when the concept of movement through time is naught but a ploy-means to an end. But they are always asking, "What if...? Just, what if...?" Then, they answer their own questions with trips up, down, through, across or outside the time and dimension lines, crawling cautiously from one time line to another, being ever vigilant so as not to fall off in the wrong where or when. But beware, these stories were designed around the surprise of twist endings, going places unknown, unforeseen. They have been written specifically to catch you looking in some other direction. Some are subtle, others-just this side of a Force 5 tornado-will send you careening through space-time to another place or a different when-perhaps both-and we cannot ensure you safe passage. From now on, you are on your own. No guiding hands. No protective wings. No way to say that, once you’re into a story, you’ll ever come out. Sorry, that’s just the way it is, was, and will be-no guarantees.



Reviews and Awards

AWARDS
- Finalist, "Anthologies" category, 2007 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards
- Finalist, "Science Fiction" category, 2007 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards
- Finalist, "Science Fiction" category, 2008 EPPIE Awards

Twisted Tails - Two - Volume I (Excerpt)


1. EPOCH
by
Terence West

As if waiting for Godot, two black clad figures sat quietly on a small park bench that had obviously seen better days. One shifted, causing the old bench to creak in agony, threatening to fail at any moment. A stern glance from the second figure stopped any further adjustments. Propping up their collars, the two fought the biting wind that was whipping across the mostly empty park. The rain sprinkling sporadically through the yellow pools of light of nearby streetlights was only making the two feel colder. Pooling on the brims of their fedoras, the water spilled forward onto their black trench coats. Leaning forward, the men confidently checked their watches.

Across the street an apartment complex loomed like a specter in the storm. Heavy on stucco, the details were painted in a horrid southwestern maroon that would have been more at home in Arizona but seemed out of place here. Large trees sprouted from man-made holes in the sidewalk and provided some shelter, but it wasn’t enough in the face of the early winter storm that had settled in. Lightning crackled above the complex’s roof, arcing dangerously toward some unseen destination.

Amidst the flash of white-blue light, a third figure’s form-their target-emerged from the murkiness of the storm. Moving briskly along the sidewalk toward the apartment, his hands were stuffed deep into his battered brown leather jacket while the collar was hiked high on his neck. His shoulders were hunched and his head held low against the cold. Glancing nervously side to side, the man stopped for a moment and reached into the inside pocket of his jacket. Producing a pack of cigarettes, he flipped open the top and drew one of the coffin nails with his lips. As he slid the cardboard pack back into his coat a bright yellow flame leapt up from a small lighter. As the end of the cigarette glowed brilliantly the figure took several nervous puffs and quickly exhaled the gray smoke.

Holding the cigarette tightly in his pursed lips, the man dug his hands back into his coat and headed toward the apartment’s entrance. Stopping short, he turned and leaned against the damp stucco exterior. His short, dark hair was matted to his face from the rain, and his five o’clock shadow was threatening to turn into a full beard at any moment. With hollow cheeks and heavy bags under his eyes, he seemed tired as if he hadn’t slept in weeks. Lifting the cigarette again, he took another drag and winced. His fingers shot to his face as he leaned forward and traced down the edge of a deep scar that ran from the bottom of his left eye and terminated just below his jawbone. The wound had long since healed, but a phantom pain gripped it. He knew it was this place, this time, causing it.

Taking a slow breath, he tried to block out the pain and concentrate. Another lightning bolt flashed in the sky above him and his mouth became dry. He turned to the left and peered down the darkened street. A lone yellow traffic light flashed ominously over the nearby intersection. He spotted a dim pair of headlights in the distance. Though it was too far away he swore he could hear the familiar rumble of the engine that haunted his dreams. That wasn’t just an oncoming truck, it was fate. It was his fate.

The two men in black slowly stood from their seat and hovered just beyond the lights. Their movement was slow and sure as if they knew exactly what was about to happen. They waited. Timing had to be perfect.

"Doesn’t he realize," one of the men breathed in anger, "what he’s doing?"