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Prizm
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-813-3
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy/SF
eBook Length: 420 Pages
Published: March 2011
OUT OF PRINT

From inside the flap

Imagine a world where children are made into monsters, dictators cheat death, and a line of deviant Amazon clones work to pacify and enslave whole populations. Then imagine this world found a way to invade yours.

Jen has no idea of the other worlds of New Sulan where she comes face to face with blood thirsty Amazons, beasts that call themselves doctors and a populace of unwitting slaves who look to a deviant celebrity dominatrix to pacify their minds and pathetic lives.

Joined by a sex starved, runaway clone with a personality disorder named Ella, Jen and Bea stumble across a plan to enslave the entire Universe when Bea’s precious memory ball, a device that records everything he knows about a series of spacetime routes called the Prizm, is stolen.

The plan is to utilize Bea’s knowledge of Prizm port locations to unleash an army of genetically engineered werebears. This not only threatens the worlds of New Sulan, but also other worlds, like earth.

Jen must choose to fight with Bea and Ella or return home and forget all about it.

The answer seems obvious.

Thus begins an adventure of a life time as Jen, Bea, and Ella slip through the space time routes of the Prizm to stop an evil that has no parallel anywhere in the Universe, growing up meanwhile.

Reviews and Awards

"Prizm is one fantastic novel. It starts mundane, then gets wild, with truly awful werebears and challenging alien cultures. How do Amazons reproduce? Violently! How do you control the leader you assign? You make a clone, and replace it if it gets ideas. Things make savage sense."—Piers Anthony

Prizm (Excerpt)


Chapter 1: Jen

Hungry! His knees thudded into the brick alley, the heels of his hands catching the brunt of it, scraping and tearing. The spill knocked his fedora sideways and off, baring his hair to the pelting rain.

"Is the bum-man okay, Mommy?"

"Shush, dear. It’s not nice to stare."

Will I die here ... of starvation? He grappled his hat and saddled it back down on his head. Well, if I do, it will be with my hat on!

He compelled his body to stand and cross the walkway. He stuffed hands into pockets where fingers curled around a metal sphere the size of a golf ball. A reminder of the mission, the reason to carry on. The mission alone would see him through. He stood and limped toward letters that spelled: F-A-N-T-I-N-O-S.


***

"Let’s go Jenny! We’ve got customers waiting!" barked Lenny, her boss who always had a smudge of the Signature Cheesecake on his chin.

"You got it. Don’t call me Jenny!"

One could not read the specials in the waitress station, because the backlights on the menu board had burned out. The cook, who only spoke Greek, had jury rigged a flashlight with some duct tape and Handy Wipes to make a kind of rope-like-construction, and hung the flashlight around the menu board. But then forgot to put batteries in the flashlight.

"Haze, why do we still have that stupid flashlight up there?" Jen asked.

Hazel Lopez stood beside her, eyes fixed on the board, squinting to see the scribbled letters in the dark. "I dunno. Big Lenny won’t spend a dime unless-"

"Come on, ladies. We’ve got customers waiting!" Len waddled through the swing door and stood behind the girls. Jen felt eyes on her ass. Jesus!

"Jen," Lenny said, "would it be all right with you if we served our customers now?"

Jen took a deep breath. "Yes, sir." She pushed passed him. Hazel managed to pop through on the other side, and the two emerged onto the dining room floor.

"What a creep!"

Jen and Hazel darted around their serving areas, but couldn’t keep up. The place packed up every Friday night. Piles of umbrellas littered the coat closet as Fantino’s filled to capacity. If Len could do one thing, it was manage a restaurant. He could wine them, dine them, and take their money like a mobster. It was this ability that made Fantino’s into FANTINO’S!

Forty-five minutes into the shift, Hazel popped up in front of Jen and squealed.

"What?"

Tommy Gustasson walked in with four other boys from the Cresenta Valley football team. And Jen could see he wasn’t looking at her.

"Hey, Hazel. What’s up?" said Tommy.

"Hey." Hazel peeked around Jen’s shoulder.

"Hey," said Tommy.

"God!" Jen spun on her heel and made a beeline to the waitress station. Hazel was acting so surprised and stupid. Tommy was obviously going to marry her.

Jen Carlson lived in a world where other real humans got everything they wanted and she got nothing. Hazel used to live in Sunland; she was "trailer trash" just like Jen. Then her mom remarried, and Hazel became the Mexican Cinderella, moved up the road to La Cresenta and found a whole new life, a new school, new friends, and now, a new quarterback.

Jen moped off and glanced at the clock. Her spirits sagged into emotional muck. She would have to wander the Dining Room Wastes for another three hours before she would be allowed to sulk alone in self-pity.

Shelly, the hostess, walked towards her with a fake smile plastering her lips back. Behind her trailed a mass of jackets, hair, and fedora. Shell seated it in Jen’s section.

Just my luck!

Jen assessed the situation: probably a bum, definitely broke. But Shell had seated him, and "When Shell seats ’em, you girls serve ’em!" said a tubby icon of Len over her shoulder. She sighed, plastered a fake smile of her own across her dull expression, and walked to her customer.

"Can I start you off with anything to drink, sir?"

No response.

"We have strawberry lemonade. Or perhaps a martini..."

The ragperson had a drink menu propped open, but wasn’t moving.

"Sir?" Oh my God, he just-"Sir?"

The mass moved, and a pale finger appeared from between layers of cloth. "Give me a moment," said a male voice.

At least he didn’t die at my table!

"Water, please." The finger disappeared inside the layers.

"Okaaay."

"Better make that two, love."

Hazel was wide-eyed when Jen came back to the waitress station and shoveled ice into two glasses. "What is it?" she said, "Man or woman?"

Jen shook her head. Why don’t you go ask Tommy Gustasson? "I don’t know. Man, I think." She brought the drinks to the ragman and placed them on the table.

"A straw, please," said the ragman. Jen produced a straw from her apron, held it out in front of the fedora so he could see it, and placed it on the table.

"Many thanks."

Five minutes later, Jen placed a house salad and two more glasses of water before the ragman, and she bused a single dish from another table. When she turned around, the ragman’s salad already disappeared; every last drop of dressing wiped from the plate. Another one of the water glasses had also been half-emptied.

"I have decided on my order," the ragman announced.

Jen waited, expecting a bowl of soup.

"Ahem," he began. "On this evening, I shall have: One Portobello mushroom! One Barbeque Chicken Pizza Panini with pesto and tomato. Grilled chicken breast." He announced each line like he’d won a prize, which was annoying. He heaved a deep breath and in one go said, "FettuccinialfredoTuscanribeyelinguiniwithclamsaucespaghettiwithmeatballs and chocolate mousse, too!"

She shook her head. "I’m sorry the wha-?"

He continued, "French Silk, the whole pie. And one cheesecake. Signature, naturally. And, of course, who can forget the Death by Chocolate Chocolate Cake? A la mode with two scoops. Vanilla bean. Oh, a bottle of red wine, too? Nay, make it a pint of Pilsner. Nay, make it both!" He closed the menu and folded his hands.

Jen placed a hand over her mouth and with squeals of disbelief, staggered back to the waitress station and burst into wails of laughter and tears.

Len’s face appeared at the bar pass-through window. "What are you doing?"

"Oh my God, Len! He’s crazy, he’s so crazy. He’s a fucking crazy, insane bum!" She slumped against the drink station and mustered a deep mimicking voice. "He wants a Tuscan rib eye! A cheesecake! A French silk pie, the whole pie please! A mushroom, a bottle of pesto, a keg of beer, some-"

Len stared with the eyes of an obese hawk.

"What? He’s a bum!"

"Jen," he said sternly, "Fantino’s is FANTINO’S, because FANTINO’S feeds its customers! Now, I don’t care what he is, you give him everything on that menu if he asks for it!"

"But-"

"You feed him until he’s fat, I say! You got that? FAT!"

And that’s how Jen came to understand Len’s childhood.


***

The table was a disaster. Dishes piled up, scraps of crusts and half-eaten things, melted ice cream. All the busboys and other wait staff went home long ago. Jen had catered to the ragman’s order for the remainder of her shift, keeping the kitchen at a high roar throughout. Once delivered, she’d peeked around the corner of the waitress station to watch him take one bite from each dish. When he’d gotten to the last plate, he started all over again with the first one.

Somewhere in the middle of the feast, he began peeking his face and hands out from behind his threadbare coats and hat. With the last gulp of wine, which he had somehow been able to drain from his cup, he tipped his fedora and let it fall drunkenly to the bench to reveal a mess of blond hair that extended to the middle of his back. Suddenly, Jen stopped despising him.

"How are we doing here?" she asked.

"I should say, quite well. All things considered." He sprawled out over his bench, his jacket and scarf a damp bundle on the floor. He wore a white button-down shirt ending in a pair of ragged, perhaps once elegant French cuffs.

What caught Jen’s attention was the brightly shining, tangled mane of blond hair that draped from his head to shoulders.

"Take your time." She placed a small leather folder on the edge of the table.

"Oh, no need. Here you are." He produced four one-hundred dollar bills and laid them on the table, like playing cards.

"Oh, well, your bill is only a hundred and ninety and-"

"You were wonderful tonight."

She nodded and pocketed the money. As she walked toward the cash register, it occurred to her that aside from Carl, the subhuman dishwasher, she and the ragman were the last ones in the restaurant. I wonder what his name is? Certainly it’s not Ragman!

She placed the ragman’s receipt on the table. "I can’t believe you actually ate-" she glanced at the half eaten steak, pies and pasta-"some of it anyway."

"I was so excited. I wanted to eat one bite from everything." He stretched.

"Where are you from?"

"I’m from everywhere." He tipped an empty wine glass to his mouth and waited for the last drop to roll down.

"English, huh?" She cleared some plates.

"Sure...whatever. But now, I’ve a question for you. Why such a sad face?"

The ragman stretched out across his side of the booth, listening to Jen natter about Hazel and Tommy and Len for the better part of half an hour. "What a sad story," he said, lazily nibbling on chocolate cake crumbs.

Jen suddenly grew tired of talking about her stupid problems. "But what about you? What’s your name, anyway?"

"My name?" He pointed a lazy finger toward the middle of his chest and waved it unsteadily, he had consumed much wine throughout Jen’s story. "My name, if you really must know, promise not to laugh or get too confused, is Beasil Benedictus the Ninth. But you can call me Bea."

Jen giggled.

"And just what are you laughing at?"

"Nothing, Bea, if you won’t tell me your real name."

"Hhmm," said Bea, "I suppose it is a silly name, isn’t it?


***

The next morning she woke before nine, jumped into the shower, and did her hair the fast way. Gene was sitting at the kitchen table when she walked in.

"Hey Kegger," she said and opened the fridge for something without mold.

"Hey there, girl. What’s got you up so early?" Gene’s scruffy face smirked as he finished off a breakfast beer.

"I dunno. Can’t sleep in no more. Gettin’ old like you."

Gene was her mother’s boyfriend. Sunland’s finest. Gene Miller’s nickname: "Kegger." He loved his Harley Davidson, which he dubbed Chaos. " Ridin’ her’s like making love to the wind!"

Kegger shaved about once a week and cracked a beer every morning with his steak and egg sandwich and collected work comp benefits from an accident that allegedly happened in 1997. Presently, he wasn’t wearing a shirt and his gray chest hair splayed over his white skin. He squashed out the butt of his cigarette and lit another. Jen didn’t really notice his peculiarities anymore. She liked him in a way, and he seemed more like an uncle than anything.

"Where’s Mom? Still sleepin’?"

"Yeah, she’s out like a light yet," said Kegger, reading the funnies. He wore his glasses which made him look like an educated ape.

"Tell her I went with Hazel, ’kay?" Jen grabbed her keys from the table.

"Sure." Kegger was reading Dennis the Menace. "Won’t mention nuthin’ about no boys neither." He smirked without looking at her.

"Who said anything about boys?"

"Go on, I gotta covered."

The Motel 6 in North Hills looked like every other Motel 6 in the Universe, and nothing seemed to have moved since the previous night when she’d dropped Bea off. She stepped out of her truck and looked about. It proved to be one of those overcast LA days: rare but welcome. She walked to Bea’s door and tapped lightly, holding a Winchell’s bag in one hand and a drink tray in the other. "Bea, it’s me. You up?" She wondered if she had tapped loud enough. If he was hung over, he might take something like a freight train horn to get him going. She followed her instinct and put the drinks and doughnuts down and knocked with force on the blue door. The door creaked open, just a crack. "Hello?"

No answer inside and too dark to see anything. Stories from junior high floated in her head. What if he suffocated in his own vomit? Or what if...he left?

Her heart sagged and the donuts and coffee seemed a dumb idea after all. The image of Hazel and Tommy making out hovered in front of her like Chinese torture, a reminder she really did belong in Tujunga, riding on the back of Kegger’s Harley and getting pregnant before graduation. She felt a lump in her throat and turned around to locate her truck when a pallid face with two watery eyes stared up at her.

"Ooohhoh! My God!" She jumped. "Jeeze, you scared me!"

A child of no more than twelve years stood in front of her, looking up through dull gray eyes that had the life sucked out of them. "Are you okay?" Jen was still breathing fast. "Where’s your mom?"

The child didn’t say anything or even move, just kept looking at her. She saw ground in dirt under his fingernails. He smelled too, like garlic and BO. His stringy hair clung together in oily points on his forehead. His worn and hole-filled clothes hung on him like a fat man’s suit. "Where’s your mom?" she repeated, her eyebrows furrowed.

The boy twitched the edges of his mouth up. "What’s your name?"

"Jen’s my name. Where’s your mom?" The boy didn’t answer; he just stood there, arms akimbo, staring up at her.

"Jen."

"Yeah, that’s what I said." She put a hand on her hip. At that moment a red pickup truck parked next to them. It seemed to spook the kid because he cut and ran, but not before ducking behind her and snatching the Winchell’s bag with his grubby little hand.

"Little shit," she said. Must have been hungry. Why didn’t he just ask?

The Motel 6 seemed considerably less friendly now, and the men from the pickup truck were carrying equipment into the room where Bea had been.

On the ride home she thought of Bea and wondered why he left without saying goodbye. She tried not to feel like a lovesick puppy, but couldn’t help it.

When she got home she flipped the "DO NOT DISTURB" sign over on her bedroom door, turned the blinds down, and switched on her CD player. Then, in the dark, under the covers, she listened to Van Morrison’s "Tupelo Honey" on repeat and cried.