What's that sound? Why, it's the Rafflecopter flying into your neighborhood! Three lucky winners are going to receive a 5 pack of codes you can use to redeem free audiobooks from Audible. That's any 5 free audiobooks from a selection of over 150,000 titles. No catch, no free trials that you have to cancel, no nothing except hours of entertainment. And it just so happens this guy might have a book or two you can listen to.
On the fence, eh? You'd rather read books the old fashioned way, huh? Well what about that morning and evening commute in your car? Instead of subjecting your ears to crappy top 40 songs, how about a history book on the ancient Mayans? Dog needs a good long walk? Pop the earbuds in and listen to Patrick Stewart narrate Moby Dick (I made that up but wouldn't it be awesome?). Stuck on the treadmill at the gym? Sitting at a desk performing a mindnumbing task that a blind monkey could perform? I think you get my point. I love reading as much as the next guy but audiobooks are the next best thing when you can't process words on paper with those eyeballs of yours.
Enter today and good luck!
An old friend of mine William Hearst sent me an email today asking if I'd read over a short piece he wrote. Bill is pretty outspoken when it comes what's happening in the middle east, especially when it comes to the Palestinians/Hamas/Arabs scrapping with Israel. Fortunately, such occurrences are rare. Only once every couple months for the last 66 years.
I asked Bill what he was planning on doing with his op-ed piece and he said he didn't have any plans, just felt like writing. I told him I'd toss it up here on my blog. So without further adieu:
The fighting continued in the Gaza Strip after a 90 minute ceasefire that was supposed to last 72 hours. Educated people who have a very sparing knowledge of history know that this conflict didn't start in 2014, or even 1014. It is a fight that has raged for as long as there has been the written word.
1948, 1967, 1973, 1982, 2009, 2012, 2014… This has become a part of the Israeli existence. Why should the Jews of Israel have to accept this as a way of life? And furthermore, why does the world seem to think it has the moral authority to tell Israel what to do in order to make sure their citizens are safe from the Arabs? The actual answer is, is that no country in the world is so above reproach that it should ever say a word about Israel and its handling of the Arab issue in the West bank and Gaza Strip - least of all the United States. Yet day after day during this current conflict, one needn't look far to see some daft Hollywood type, the BBC, New York Times, et al, making some bombastic statement about the way in which Israel is handling a very dangerous situation.
The question is ubiquitous, but it is a very valid one: what would any country do if they were faced with the same situation as Israel? What would any person do that was charged with protecting someone, much less a nation of people? Anyone that answers the previous question honestly would agree with what Israel is doing and the tactics that they are employing. Israel does not want to kill Arab youths. Israel does not want to blow up UN schools in the Gaza Strip. Israel does not want to kill Arab women. Israel does not want to kill Arab men. Women do not want to have their breasts removed when they get cancer, however in order to get rid of the cancer you must attack it at the source. You don’t cut off the shoulder to solve a problem that exists in the knee.
Hamas knows that it will garner a great deal of support in the uneducated and anti-west world every time a rocket hits a school or a hospital in Gaza. Which is precisely why they use those venues to launch their attacks and hide their munitions. The strategy is two-fold; it causes Israel a dilemma because Israel does not want to launch rockets at a school or hospital because it will very likely cause innocent people to be killed. It is also a way for Hamas to portray the Jews as a mongrel race that has no value for human life. How could a country launch an attack on a school?!
“New Amsterdam it’s become much too much.” The institutional anti-Semitism that is rotten in the Gaza Strip cannot be untaught. After all the conflicts between the Jews and Arabs how can anyone with a grain of sense think that a two state solution is viable? The only way it would work is if the Jews remained in Israel and the Arab state was located in Fiji. The Arabs have proved time and again that they cannot stomach peace with the Jews. The world needs to grow up fast. Forcing interaction between people that don’t like each other is a recipe for disaster. Should people respect one another for their differences? Absolutely. Should anyone be forced to live right next to someone who they find to be completely unfit? No. At the end of the day the world needs to let Israel and the Arabs figure this out themselves.
- William Hearst
Robert Sez: As a non-Jewish boring white American, I can't see for the life of me why the Jews want to stay in Israel. I say pack up all six million and send them over here to the western hemisphere. Maybe Mexico could donate a few thousand acres they aren't using and Israel 2.0 could be up and running in no time.
OK, as I wrote that I couldn't help remember another time when somebody had the bright idea to move all the Jews to a different place, but let's not get into that. My bad.
Sadly, I know deep down even if every last Jew packed up and moved to the North Pole, it wouldn't matter much. Within a year, an extreme sect of radical Muslim Eskimos would load up polar bears with C4 and send them into town because the evil Zionists were living on top of sacred ice or something.
It's pretty easy to paint Israel the bad guy in the latest round of fighting. After all, they have the modern military and the citizens of Gaza are essentially unarmed. Civilians are being killed and injured by the hundreds. But as Bill pointed out much more eloquently than I'm attempting to do, The Israeli army didn't wake up one morning and decide to roll armor through the strip and start gunning kids down. Kick the hornet nest and there is a good chance you'll get stung.
The real problem in my opinion is too many people with radically different values and beliefs crammed into a tight space the size of Six Flags. Something has to give. Is there an easy answer? I'm not sure but I have sneaking suspicion my great grandson will be writing about this very subject long after my consciousness has been uploaded into the cloud.
Seriously, it's 2014. When is that part of the world going to get it's shit together and move on? Why can't people just do their thing and leave everybody else alone? Yes, I know I'm oversimplifying and me giving that advice to a parent after an Israeli rocket just took out their school is ridiculous. But really, the root cause of that rocket is the Muslims hate the Jews and the Sunnis hate the Shias and Mahdavi hate the Christians and pretty much everybody hates America.
It's getting so bad I almost pray to my non-controversial-please-don't-get-offended God that aliens show up and try to enslave us. At least that would bind us together as the human race and we'd all have a common enemy for once. Until that day comes, keep your damn polar bear off my lawn.
FAT VAMPIRE by Johnny B Truant
Yep, Fat Vampire is just what it sounds like. Reginald is an overweight pathetic office worker, the butt of jokes and an overall unhappy loser. When he unintentionally gets transformed into a vampire to have his life spared, Reginald needs to quickly learn the ropes of becoming one of the undead from his friend and fellow vamp, Maurice. Fat Vampire is a quick and funny read. Best of all, it's free as the first book in the FV series.
UNBROKEN by Laura Hillenbrand
Unbroken is one of those nonfiction books I feel like every person should read. The true story of what Louis Zamperini and the other survivors of their plane that crashed in the Pacific is amazing. Drifting in a life raft surrounded by thousands of miles of water, fighting off sharks, and getting strafed by Japanese planes was just the beginning. Seriously, even if you don't find WWII all that interesting, you need to read Unbroken.
Not interested? Check out what's popular this week:
Amazon Best Sellers Top 100 Books
POINT OF IMPACT by Stephen Hunter
Are you one of those people always saying "Yeah, but the book was way better than the movie?" Good, cuz here's another on for you. SHOOTER starring Mark Wahlberg from 2007 was based on one of my favorite books, Point of Impact. Bob Lee "the nailer" Swagger was one of the best Vietnam war snipers the US Marine Corps turned out. Years later, the US government hires Swagger as a consultant when they learn an assassin is planning on taking out the president. Swagger gets framed as the shooter and has to prove his innocence while trying to get revenge on the bad guys. Point of Impact is the first book of a loose Bob Lee Swagger series (you don't have to read them in order).
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green
Speaking of movies based on books, here's another. I read The Fault in Our Stars as a favor to my wife who practically demanded I do so since it's one of her favorites. It can be a bit pretentious at times and some of the dialog between the teenage characters is unbelievable at best. Despite that, I did enjoy this book about teen cancer patients. If you're one of the four people left who hasn't read 'Stars, give it a try, whydon'tcha?
Not interested? Check out what's popular this week:
Amazon Best Sellers Top 100 Books
PINES by Blake Crouch
If you're a fan of books that deliver a twist at the end, then Pines won't disappoint. Blake Crouch is one of my favorite authors and Pines is his best work in my opinion. It's one of those books that I kept thinking about long after I'd finished reading the last page, which is always a good sign. The story follows a federal agent who wakes from a car crash in a little town where nothing is as it seems. Pines is the first book in the three part Wayward Pines series. The third and final installment comes out this Tuesday, so hurry up and get reading!
PRESIDENT ME by Adam Carolla
When it comes to Adam Carolla, you either love him, hate him, or don't know who he is other then the guy from The Man Show. I've been a big fan of the Aceman for years and have seen just about everything he's been in. President Me: The America That's in my Head, is Carolla's third book and basically lays out what he would do as president. More like king of the world to be exact. President Me is a comedy book but he actually makes some very level headed and common sense points when it comes to politics. Unfortunately, as a regular listener of his podcast I've heard most of these rants before. Despite that I still enjoyed it and recommend President Me if you're looking for a break from fiction.
Not interested? Check out what's popular this week:
This blog has a tendency to be very naggy. Every day I hear it whisper in my ear: "Hey, Brumm. It's been insert number here days since you've posted anything on me. Was it something I said? Is the magic gone? You're spending all of your time online on one of those other sites, aren't you? Aren't you?!"
So to smooth things over with me and my blog, I came up with an idea for a regular weekly post. I read a lot of books and I'm always on the lookout for word of mouth recommendations. So here are mine. Each week I'll list two books I've read. One recent and one from a while back. I won't be spending a lot of time writing up extensive reviews, just a quick summary and what I thought of the book. So without further adieu...let's get to my very first recommendations. Read This!
FEEDBACK by Peter Cawdron. I finished reading on July 2nd 2014.
If you're not familiar with my buddy Peter Cawdron but you enjoy intelligent and believable sci-fi, then you're missing out. In case you couldn't figure it out from the cover, Feedback touches on good old fashioned flying saucers. Sort of. The story follows a craft that crashes into the sea off the coast of North Korea, a genius physics student, a young boy that may or may not be from outer space, a heroic South Korean Coast Guard helicopter pilot, and a hot girl with an empty purse. Oh, and dragons. Confused? Good. Now read the book to find out what I'm talking about.
WHISKEY SOUR by J.A. Konrath. I finished reading on March 25th, 2013.
Are you looking for a new series to get hooked on? Well, I just so happen to have a doozy - The Jack Daniels series by Joe Konrath. Each book stars Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels, a bad ass Chicago homicide cop. What I enjoy so much about this series is Konrath does a great job of mixing gruesome and disturbing serial killer stuff with light hearted comedy. There's plenty of action and if you're like me, you'll get attached to Jack and the people in her life quickly. Technically, you don't have to read these in order, but Whiskey Sour is the first, so I would recommend starting there.
Not interested? Well then check out what books are popular this week:
If you're anything like me, you've heard of dialysis and you know it has something to do with kidneys. That was the extent of my knowledge before my wife went into kidney failure.
I won't pretend I'm an expert on the subject, but I've learned a lot about dialysis over the past few years. The four week training course Tammy and I recently took so we could be certified to perform dialysis at home was a real eye opener and we both learned a lot.
It wasn't an easy decision to make, so we made a short video on the subject. Hopefully other folks in our situation will find this video when they are thinking about dialysis at home for themselves or a loved one.
As for the rest of you, we thought you might be interested in what it is we're actually doing every night to keep my girl alive.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments below or shoot me an email. Thanks for watching.
September 7, 2012.
I didn’t sleep very well that night. Earlier that day we got the official call. After 527 days, my wife Tammy was finally approved for a kidney transplant. She was officially on THE LIST. She told me in the front yard when she got home from dialysis that morning and we held each other and cried. We were so happy, we practically threw an impromptu party in celebration, wanted to shout from the rooftops that she was finally on THE LIST.
Later that night we went to bed with our cell phones locked and loaded. Ring tones tested, volumes turned up. On call and ready to be woken up by her surgeon the second a kidney was available. I dozed for most of the night in a semi-sleep state of consciousness, knowing that phone could ring at any time and we’d be ready.
How quaint. That was 635 days ago. For those of you keeping score, we’re still waiting for a kidney transplant after Tammy was diagnosed with stage five end stage renal failure 1,162 days ago. That’s 3 years, two months, and five days.
Getting on THE LIST wasn’t easy and it certainly wasn’t a quick process. Tammy’s kidneys started failing on March 7th 2011. A few weeks later after some unsuccessful chemo, they passed away for good and she got her first dialysis treatment on April 4th of that year. It took 18 months of countless appointments and tests before finally getting on the list. In the meantime while we waited, 216 dialysis treatments went by to keep her alive. 5 hours a day, 3 times a week, every week.
It’s been over 3 years since Tammy’s first dialysis treatment, and as of April of 2014 she’s had 431 more. Give or take. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday she would rise at 4:30 A.M. and drive 20 minutes to the dialysis center. By 9:30 or 10:00 she’d leave with her blood cleaned and toxins removed. Feeling sick, tired, and horrible. Dialysis is the perfect example of a treatment that makes you feel as bad as the disease. After arriving back at home she’d collapse in bed most days. The entire day gone. 3 times a week. Every week.
In April of 2014 we decided to look into home dialysis. It was an idea she resisted for months because in her mind it was a way of giving up, acknowledging the fact that the call in the middle of the night might never come. After 4 weeks of training for the both of us, we’re finally doing dialysis at home.
It’s a little better, but not much. 3 times a week for 5 hours a day has become 3.5 hours a day, 5 days a week. Instead of a 20 minute drive to the treatment center and back, our commute is the living room. The equipment takes up a corner of the room and 2 closets are packed full of supplies.
We’ve been only doing dialysis at home for 4 weeks now and the renewed sense of optimism and energy is quickly fading. I can see it in her eyes every night when I poke her twice in the arm with needles to hook her up to the machine. The glances at the clock are becoming more frequent. The black cloud over her head thickens. Imagine feeling sick every single day. Never having a break, your whole life in a holding pattern for over three years. I’m closer to her than anybody I can’t fully appreciate what she goes through.
In the meantime, we wait. I’m on my own list now after months of countless appointments and tests. I can’t be a direct donor to Tammy, but I’m in the National Kidney Registry as part of the paired donation program. I donate to a compatible patient in need and their donor would give a kidney to Tammy.
Dialysis is expensive. The numbers vary, but I’ve seen the annual cost per patient anywhere from $50,000 to over $100,000. The average time on dialysis is 3 to 5 years for those who are on the waiting list for a donor. Those who aren’t, cost the health care system that much every year until they pass away. Obviously, we’re not getting bills in the mail for 50K. With our private health insurance and Medicare (dialysis patients automatically quality for disability and Medicare) we pay a small fraction of that out of pocket. But that doesn’t mean it magically gets written off somehow. We all pay for it one way or another.
Instead of shelling out billions each year for a somewhat inefficient and outdated technology, the US government should pay healthy individuals willing to donate a kidney a handsome reward in the area of $50,000 plus medical expenses. Tax free. The live donor pool would go through the roof and the number of dialysis patients would plummet. Overall costs would go down and those who qualified in financial need would receive a nice reward for their sacrifice. The high level of testing, screening, and quality control of live donors is already in place. Junkies walking in the door looking for some quick cash for a couple of stitches would get turned away, just like they would today.
But none of that really matters to my family. Unless that happens tomorrow, we’re still waiting. I try to stay positive, try to focus on the positives and unfocused on what we can’t control. It’s hard not to be tired. Hard for us not to become bitter, cynical, and resentful.
We’re still here and we’re still waiting.
Tomorrow is day 1,163.
Ah, pedophiles. You gotta love 'em. And what a perfect subject for a catchy pop song. No, wait a minute. We all HATE pedophiles. What kind of sick twisted pervert would write a song about one? Nobody, right? Well, hold on there bub, because you may have been singing along to one of those mysterious songs in the car this very morning without even realizing it.
Ladies, gents, and especially children, I give you four popular songs that celebrate pedophiles.
"Young Girl" Gary Puckett & The Union Gap
Let's start off with an easy one and the most obvious. Unless you're a mindless zombie able to tune out the world around you, I know you've heard this song and wondered the same thing I did: "How in the holy hell did this song get air play on the radio?!"
Let's take a closer look at those lyrics, shall we?
Young girl, get out of my mind
My love for you is way out of line
Better run girl,
You're much too young girl
It starts off a little sketchy right out of the gate. He's basically telling this girl to RUN AWAY because he can't promise his junk won't stay on his side of the bell bottoms.
With all the charms of a woman
You've kept the secret of your youth
You led me to believe
You're old enough
To give me Love
And now it hurts to know the truth, Oh,
Translation: You told me your were 18! Old enough to give me, ahem, "love" and now I have blue balls. Did I mention you better run?
Beneath your perfume and make-up
You're just a baby in disguise
And though you know
That it is wrong to be
Alone with me
That come on look is in your eyes, Oh,
Time to take it up an notch and use the word "baby." Not creepy enough for you, Gary? Notice how he turns it all on the girl. He's the strong one rejecting her advances. What a hero.
So hurry home to your mama
I'm sure she wonders where you are
Get out of here
Before I have the time
To change my mind
'Cause I'm afraid we'll go too far, Oh,
Again, talking about "mama" just to remind us how young this gal is. Not much of a hero anymore, is he? He's basically telling us that unless she leaves right now, they'll go too far. Much, much, too far.
Young girl get outta my mind
my love for you is way outta line
better run girl, your much too young girl
Feel the need to take a shower yet? Now, I know what you're thinking. "Hey man, lighten up. How do you know the song isn't about some 17 year old singing about a 15 year old? That's not so bad."
Okay, I see your point, Naive Skeptic, but I pass my judgement based on the actual age of the dude singing. Gary Puckett was 26 the day he belted out these perverted lyrics about a twelve year old girl in the studio that day. Feel better? Me neither.
"Chevy Van" Sammy Johns
A staple in any Time Life Songs of the Seventies album. Just a harmless song about a dude and his van? Oh no. Take a listen.
I gave a girl a ride in my wagon
She crawled in and took control
She was tired 'cause her mind was a-draggin'
I said, get some sleep and dream of rock and roll
He starts off by picking up a tired hitch hiker and tells her to dream about a certain genre of music. If that isn't enough of a clue that he's an insane serial rapist or killer, I don't know what is. And he's in a van. Let's not forget that.
'Cause like a princess she was layin' there
Moonlight dancin' off her hair
She woke up and took me by the hand
She's gonna love me in my Chevy van
And that's all right with me
Unlike Gary Puckett, Sammy chooses his words a little more carefully. She woke up and took his hand. She's gonna love me (whether she wants to or not, Sammy?). You're not fooling anybody, guy. You watched her like a perv while she slept. Keep your eyes on the road, creep.
Her young face was like that of an angel
Her long legs were tanned and brown
Better keep your eyes on the road, son
Better slow this vehicle down
That's what I said! Good Lord, this girl better wake up and jump out of the van right now. Kinda strange how there are no door handles on the inside...
I put her out in a town that was so small
You could throw a rock from end to end
A dirt-road main street, she walked off in bare feet
It's a shame I won't be passin' through again
So he conveniently left out the bit where he violated her in the back of his van, but Sammy has no qualms about admitting to dumping her in some strange town. In bare feet. And he's already regretting he didn't get to do it a second time.
'Cause like a princess she was layin' there
Moonlight dancin' off her hair
She woke up and took me by the hand
We made love in my Chevy van
And that's all right with me
But the real question is, was it all right with her? Here comes that Naive Skeptic again: "Hey man, this article is supposed to be about pedophiles. That girl could've been legal." This is true, but he described her as "young" and a "princess" so Sammy is getting the Pedo Stamp of Approval.
"I'm on Fire" Bruce Springsteen
We all know The Boss was boooorn in the U.S.A, but did you know he wrote a song about a psycho that breaks in to a girl's home to assault her? Sure you did. Don't let the video about cars and what-not distract you from the disturbing-ass lyrics.
Hey little girl is your daddy home
Did he go away and leave you all alone
I got a bad desire
Oh Oh Oh
I'm on fire
Woah, did he really just say that? Nothing subtle here.
Tell me now baby is he good to you
Can he do to you the things that I do
I can take you higher
Oh Oh Oh
I'm on fire
Notice he didn't say "Can he do for you the thing that I do." That single word is the reason this song is banned in 17 countries. OK, I made that up, but come on...
Sometimes it's like someone took a knife baby
Edgy and dull and cut a six-inch valley
Through the middle of my soul
I did mention this dude is a psycho, right?
At night I wake up with the sheets soaking wet
And a freight train running through the
Middle of my head
Only you can cool my desire
Singing about soaking wet sheets ain't helping, Bruce.
Oh Oh Oh
I'm on fire
"Oh Oh Oh." Do I have to spell that one out for you? Naive Skeptic: "Hey, man....Yeah, I got nothin.' This song gives me nightmares."
"Brown Eyed Girl" Van Morrison
Oh, that's no typo. Everybody loves this song, right? A regular at weddings and keg parties the world over. But have you ever given it any thought? Not to worry, because I have and Rape Van Morrision has pedo written all over him.
Hey, where did we go
Days when the rains came ?
Down in the hollow
Playing a new game,
Laughing and a-running, hey, hey,
Skipping and a-jumping
In the misty morning fog with
Our, our hearts a-thumping
And you, my brown-eyed girl,
You, my brown-eyed girl.
To me, this seems just a little too light-hearted and juvenile to be talking about two consenting adults, here. Playing new games? Laughing, skipping, and a-jumping? Hmmm. Careful, Van.
Let's skip ahead a little.
So hard to find my way
Now that I'm all on my own.
I saw you just the other day,
My, how you have grown!
Cast my memory back there, Lord,
Sometime I'm overcome thinking about
Making love in the green grass
Behind the stadium
With you, my brown-eyed girl,
You, my brown-eyed girl.
Woah. Did he really just comment on how much she's grown? The average girl stops growing around 18 so that means he hasn't seen her in years. So long, that he's shocked by how much she's physically grown.
"Hey man, people grow intellectually and spiritually, man. That's what he's talking about." Really, Naive Skeptic? Because he clearly stated HE SAW HER just other other day. He didn't say "I talked to you and realized just how much you've grown as a person on the inside." And why didn't he stop to chat? Perhaps a certain rule involving how close he can get to minors?
And why were they doing it behind the stadium? You know where most stadiums are? By schools. And what about that "song that they used to sing?"
Sha la la la la la la la la la la dee dah
Just like that
Sha la la la la la la la la la la dee dah
La dee dah.
Sort of sounds like a children's tune, doesn't it?
Do me a favor and look at his photo above. Now imagine him saying "You're my little brown eyed girl. This will be our secret." You can thank me when you're done vomiting.
Wisconsin heard the news this morning that American TV & Appliance is going out of business after 60 years, resulting in 989 lost jobs. American TV & Appliance has 11 retail stores, including seven in Wisconsin, two in Illinois and two in Iowa. Think Best Buy with a little more emphasis on furniture, and you can picture American. The company spokesperson claimed “an unforgiving economy over the last five years” as the primary cause of the downfall. As usual, the sea of commentators on our local newspaper’s website turned into an ugly political debate as most topics these days do. Plenty of people blaming Obamacare, Governor Walker, Democrats, Republicans, blah, blah, blah….
The truth is, in this case, politics had very little to do with American going out of business. Even the bad economy can’t be blamed. American failed because the world is different than it was in 1988 (or any year prior to 2000 or so).
When I was a wee lad growing up in Grafton, Wisconsin, and folks in my town were looking to buy a TV (or any high end piece of electronics), we didn’t have many local options. This was the case for most of the 1980s and 1990s. Sure, there was a mom and pop store or two. Back then Kohl’s sold TVs and we had a Kmart. But for most people, the default choice for such large purchases was to hop in the car and drive to Brown Deer, about 15 miles away. That’s where the closest mall lived and hosted the likes of Best Buy, Circuit City, and American TV & Appliance.
Smash cut to 2014. Folks who live in Grafton have their own Best Buy, Target, and Costco. Not to mention the Internet. I haven’t even stepped foot into American for at least 15 years, much less buy something from there. When most big box stores offer the same prices and service, why would I drive twenty minutes?
This is the reality of why American is going out of business. I would venture a guess that a huge majority of their customers over the last 5 years were local. No longer are the almost 87,000 residents of Ozaukee county making the pilgrimage to Brown Deer when Amazon can drop off a TV on their doorstep.
This is neither good or bad, it’s just reality. We live in an ever changing world and a brutally efficient system of capitalism. Either adapt with the times or go under. Unfortunately, there is very little businesses like American can do as the times and technologies surrounding them change. I’m sure somewhere, there is a Blockbuster Video exec sighing over fuzzy memories of rewinding fees. When he’s not using his Netflix dartboard.
This is happening big time in the world of books and publishing. Like it or not, most mom and pop book stores will be a thing of the past very soon. After that, the giants like Barnes and Noble will follow. Remember when a B Dalton was in every mall in America? How about Walden Books and Borders?
I think we can all agree this is a sad state of affairs. I mean, who doesn’t love a good book store? I know I do, but I haven’t bought a paper book in several years. I consume and purchase books on my trusty Kindle with a voracious appetite and that’s the case for most people these days.
According to www.authorearnings.com a whopping 86% of the top 2,500 genre fiction bestsellers in the overall Amazon store are e-books. At the top of the charts, the dominance of e-books is even more extreme. 92% of the Top-100 best-selling books in these genres are e-books.
There are plenty of folks out there who will claim all day long they prefer the feel and experience of a “real” book, but the numbers don’t lie. Huge book store chains like B&N can’t survive on that 8% market share.
I fell head-over-heels in love with reading e-books ever since my wife Tammy gave me a Kindle for my birthday a few years ago. I believe the advantages of e-books overcome the disadvantages. To name a few:
E-books are ideal for the disabled and/or the elderly. Remember when you tried to read that hard cover edition of Under the Dome one-handed in the bath while trying to eat a meatball sub? Now imagine trying to read a book that big with severe arthritis in your hands and wrists. My Kindle weighs less than a copy of Readers Digest and only requires the click of a single button to turn pages.
What about those silly looking large print editions? Some folks even need to use a magnifying glass with those because the text is too small. My Kindle can bump up the text size to as large as I want on the fly. And some books offer professional narration to go along with the text for an additional fee.
E-books are good for the environment. I’m no tree hugger, but think of all the trees and energy it takes to make a traditional book. Not only do you need to print out all those pages and bind them into a book, you need more paper to box them up, and then you’re burning gas shipping these books all over tarnation. And guess what? A vast majority of these paper books never sell and get yanked off the shelf in a little as a few weeks. More gas to ship the unsold copies back to the distributor/publisher where I assume most of them get recycled. Talk about a waste.
Other than some electricity and man hours, e-books use very little of anything. Just a few kilobytes of disk space on the Amazon servers and bandwidth to deliver it to customers. No trees and no diesel required.
E-books encourage reading. This is largely based on my own experience and opinion, but I feel e-books encourage reading over paper books. Back in the old days, I rarely bought books because I was cheap and lazy. Most of my reading came courtesy of trips to the library (more gas guzzling). As a result, I didn’t go that often and only grabbed a few books at a time.
Now that I consume all my books via Kindle, I read every day and actually buy books all the time. In general, e-books are much cheaper, so I can afford to buy more. Plus there are tons of free and borrowable books out there. I’ve read more books since receiving my Kindle than I probably did my whole adult life up to that point.
And what about kids? Hand a traditional book to a teenager and it may as well be a plate of cat shit. But an e-reader? Ooo, technology. If you can keep them away from the built-in Facebook app, you just might catch them reading a book.
E-books encourage self-publishing. This is the biggie, of course. Without Amazon Kindle and other self-publishing venues, little nobody indies like me would have an impressive collection of rejection letters and little else to show for our efforts. Much like American TV & Appliance, the traditional gate keepers of publishing are hurting bad. While they’re holding meetings trying to figure out how to stay in business, indie authors like me are making a living and gaining fans without them.
I don’t hate traditional books. Give me a large full-colored non-fiction book over a Kindle any day of the week. Have you read a magazine on a Kindle Fire? Let’s just say I cancelled my subscription to Motor Trend on my Kindle almost immediately. It’s not a good experience. I don’t think traditional paper books will get to the point of extinction, but businesses based solely on them will be rare or non-existent. Future paper books will be print on demand only. They will fall to the niche markets. Art History, photography, atlases, visual art based books, etc. Used book stores will be around for much longer. But forever? I don’t think so.
Like it or not, the world of books, publishing, reading, and writing, is in a massive transitional phase with no signs of slowing down. It makes me sad to think of a world without book stores or libraries but let’s face it. We may be heading that way. I’m sad there are no longer any drive-in movie theatres where I live either, but that doesn’t mean I want to give up Netflix.
With any progress, there are always winners and losers. It’s sad for the losers, especially those 989 people at American who are out of work, but the winners bring with them a whole world of exciting innovation, new products, and new experiences. I for one, say full steam ahead.
I'm happy to announce the release of my latest book, Windigo Soul. Again. This is a total re-write of the original as I explained in the notes at the beginning of the book:
I published Windigo Soul in early 2012. It’s considered a novella (fancy name for a short book) at around 34,000 words. At the time, I was relieved to finally click that “publish” button and get on with my life. I don’t know about other writers, but by the time I’m finished writing a book I’m so sick the manuscript, characters, and world I’ve created, I never want to think about it again.
As the months slipped by, Windigo Soul sold pretty well and most of the reviews were favorable. Other than the constant comparisons to Solyent Green*, something bugged me. I started to feel guilty. I admitted to myself that W.S. was a novella because I wimped out and cut the story short only so I could publish it and move on to something else. A few books under my belt later, I decided to do something about it.
In late 2013 I dusted off the old manuscript and started re-writing it from scratch. I took away some old stuff, added a bunch of new stuff, and earned the right to drop the “la” from my novella. Although it’s still relatively short, what you’re about to read now clocks in at over 61,000 words. My main goal was to provide a proper ending and spend more time developing the world and people I introduced in the original.
If you read the first edition, I hope you agree what you are about to read is a vast improvement when you’ve finished. If this is your first time, I hope you enjoy it.
*I can honestly say I’d never even heard of Soylent Green when I originally wrote this book. After the third or fourth comparison, I finally borrowed the DVD from the library to see what all the hub-bub was about. IT’S PEOPLE!
If you already bought the old version of Windigo Soul in the past, you'll be able to download the updated version from Amazon for FREE. I'm not entirely sure how or when, but Amazon should email you with instructions on how to download the new version. Here's what they said:
If the changes made to your content are considered critical, we'll email all customers who own the book to notify them of the update and improvements made. These customers will be able to choose to opt in to receive the update through the Manage Your Kindle page on Amazon.com. www.amazon.com/gp/digital/fiona/manage
Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think! ~RB
Thanks to Darcie and Rudi of Slushheap.com for having me on the show tonight. We discussed the importance of reading as an author, something I feel pretty strongly about. I also learned I say "absolutely" way too much and look pissed off most of the time. And why didn't anybody tell me my face is lopsided? Did I have a stroke? Maybe you shouldn't watch it.....
Here is a copy of my newsletter I sent to the folks on my mailing list on December 14th. I still have another day in the month so hey, it still applies. Thought I'd share it here on my blog.
What in tarnation is this mailing list I speak of? Glad you asked! If you sign up, you'll get lovely email messages like the one you're about to read from time to time. It won't be often, it won't be spammy, but you will be the first kid on the block to find out about stuff like new books I wrote. Go for it!
Happy December, Everybody! Depending on how you're wired, you may A: Love this time of year, or B: Hate this time of year. I guess I'm in the middle somewhere. I just turned 40 last week so I've been busy shopping for a sports car, hitting the tanning beds, and dying my hair dark brown.
In the meantime, the thermometer hasn't gotten over 20 here in Wisconsin for well over a week, it's snowing, I've done zero Christmas shopping, and it's dark outside by 4:30. Humbug.
But I digress. You didn't join my mailing list (thanks, by the way) to hear me bitch about my old age and the weather. What have I been working on you ask?
I'm 36,000 words into the second edition of Windigo Soul. Considering the original only hit 34,000 words and I'm about 3/4 of the way through the original story, I should hit my minimum of 50,000 words with ease. I hope. I'm still not sure how the story is going to end but hey, why sweat little details like that? If you're not aware of my reason for re-writing Windigo Soul, I explained in a blog post this past summer why I chose to do so.
Speaking of blogs, my colleagues and I over at DeadPixel Publications have been working hard to provide fresh content on our site with a variety of topics. Recently we've talked about Patrick Swayze, why women are better writers, Hitler, sex demons, home brewing, and the ingredients in seasoned salt. In case you haven't noticed, there isn't much of a theme to the blog. I'd appreciate it if you'd stop by and check it out. With all that variety you're sure to find something interesting.
Well, I'll let you get back to your December. I just wanted to drop by and say hello. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and all that jazz. Take care.
* Update from December 30th Robert
Windigo Soul is now up past 50,000 words and I'm hoping to wrap up the first draft this week! In the meantime, enjoy a sneak peak of the new cover.
Ah, the 1970’s. Sure, it’s fun to look back with rose colored glasses and fondly remember what little good came from that decade. Plenty of great music, some classic films, and enough pop culture references to keep us entertained until the 2070’s. But let’s not forget about the bad stuff, folks. For every “2112” by Rush, there was an “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” by Rupert Holmes to keep it company. For every “Star Wars” there was a “Blacula” standing behind it.
But forget about the feathered hair and disco suits for a second. What really suffered in the 1970’s was design. Especially industrial design. From bland and depressing architecture to avocado colored appliances, the 70’s were a train wreck for the eyes. Nothing illustrates this point more than the state of the American automobile.
Cars in this country started out pretty cool. Picture the Chevy Bellaire from the 50's, those old timey Fords and Dusenburgs from the 20’s and 30’s, and all those classic muscle cars given birth in the 60’s. I can’t speak for the quality or reliability of those early American rides, but a lot of them sure look pretty durn sweet.
Smash cut to the 70’s. Somehow we managed to transform mean looking muscle cars into bland sedans the size of cruise ships. And things didn’t get any better in the 80’s or even early 90’s. Let’s not forget about that.
Plenty of new cars were born and then died in the 70’s and 80’s. The real crime was keeping the name of a classic and allowing the bad taste of the designer in a leisure suit to tarnish its reputation forever.
Let’s take a look at a few of Detroit’s finest that started out as cool cars and ended up as laughing stocks.
1. Oldsmobile Cutlass 1961-1999
When I was a kid growing up in the 80's, Oldmobiles, Cadillacs, and Buicks were considered "old people cars." Hell, the word OLD is in the name, for Pete's sake.
Little did I know at the time, Olds started out as pretty cool cars. Take the first generation Cutlass for example.
I'm not sure if the teens of the time would think the early 60's Cutlass was "square" or "keen" but I think it's pretty cool. The third generation from 1968 to 1972 is when GM decided to put a little muscle in Cutlass and the designs reflected it. After all, you can't drop in a 455 and make it look like grocery getter.
Alas, 1973 is when it all went horribly wrong when the fourth generation hit from 1973 to 1977.
Seriously, how can this be the same car? It's like they had a contest to see who could come up with the most dramatic horrible design change in just one model year. But don't worry. It got even worse as the decade marched on.
The worst part about the nose dive from bad ass muscle to hideous sedan that creepy uncle Roger drove? It never bounced back. When the Cutlass name was finally retired after 40 years, they dropped this piece of crap on us and snuck out the back door.
2. Ford Thunderbird 1955-2005
The Thunderbird started it's run in the mid-fifties as a very classy looking coupe to compete with Chevy's hot new Corvette. It was sporty without being over the top and I'm sure it turned a few heads on it's way to the drive-in or sock hop.
In 1958, the T-Bird grew in size considerably when the suits upstairs decided to add back seats to widen the market. Regardless, it still looked good as the 50's grew to a close. Especially when you parked it on the deck of a pool for some reason.
1961 is when the Thunderbird design took a turn for the slightly strange when it got a bullet-like jacket. Still, nothing to get too concerned about. A little dated when you look at it today but I'd still drive one.
They squared things off again in 1964 and in my humble opinion, improved the design a bit.
That's when the hippies showed up and I start to get concerned. At the end of the 60's and into the early 70's the T-Bird was definitely getting bloated and looking strange. Still, the large gaping grill and swooping lines on the front quarter panel is sort of interesting looking. I guess.
And that's when things go horribly wrong again. In 1973 again. The Thunderbird was beaten so severely with the ugly stick I'm sure it made children cry and induced vomiting on more than one occasion.
Hard to believe people actually went into dealership and bought these things of their own free will. Ford kept pushing the Thunderbird into the 80's and 90's with more bad design before the T-Bird was finally retired in 2005. Ironically, the last generation was inspired by the first generation from the 50's but it just wasn't the same.
3. Dodge Charger 1966-Present
Wait a minute, what's the Charger doing on this list? It's always been cool, right? Oh, no. In between the time it was painted orange, racing through the dirt roads of Hazzard county, and the HEMI powered muscular sedans still being sold today, there was a little thing called The Seventies. And even the mighty Charger took a beating.
The Charger hit the streets in 1966 with a somewhat subdued yet original design thanks to the huge grill up front and matching headlight covers.
The second generation came out in 1968 for just two short years. Enough time to become an instant classic still regarded today as one of the iconic muscle cars in America.
Enter 1970. Nervous? The Charger got a tweak, but it's not as bad as you might imagine. A step in the wrong direction? Sure, but from 1970 to 1974 it teetered on the edge of cool and was still passable.
Aaaaaand here comes 1975. I could describe in detail just how back the Charger plunged into homeliness, but as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Dodge tried again in the 1980's by releasing the Charger as a subcompact hatchback. With a 2.2 liter four-banger. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
Is it any wonder GM, Ford, and Chrysler took such a beating in the 70's and lost market share to Japan? Mind you, this is just three examples of cars that brought shame to this great country. There dozens of others from the big three that were just as ugly as the ones I listed above. What's your favorite? Share in the comments below.
My fellow authors and I over at DeadPixel Publications just released our first collection of short stories. It's a great mix if different genres and has a little something for everybody who enjoys reading. Best of all, it's FREE for Kindle until November 5th. Check it out!
Let's get one thing straight, right off the bat. I released Black Water Creek a little over a month ago and I would like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to everybody that bought a copy for $3.99. Thank you so much for shelling out your hard earned money. Thanks for taking a chance on me in hopes that you'll be entertained for a few hours. I honestly hope I didn't let you down.
Now that I got that out of the way, I need to apologize to the people I just thanked. The Kindle version of Black Water Creek is going to be free for the next few days. I feel guilty because I'm afraid those of you who bought the book are going to feel cheated that I'm giving it away just a month later.
You may wonder why some authors temporarily give away their work for free. Simple. It creates more paid sales. When a book is offered for free, it often gets downloaded very quickly by many people. I've often given away 20,000 to 30,000 copies in just a few days. Sometimes just a few hundred or a thousand.
Out of say, 20,000 downloads, there is a significant number of people who never get around to reading it. Or they're book hoarders who simply take pleasure in adding to their Kindle library and have no way of reading everything they've collected. There isn't anything good or bad about this. It's just reality.
So let's say that leaves 15,000 out of 20,000 people who actually read the book (uneducated guess) they downloaded. Out of those 15,000 I can expect:
So that's why I do it and I thought some folks who already bought the book could use an explanation. My two cents for your $3.99. Thanks.
I'm not going to pretend I'm some big-shot highfalutin author who gets so much fan mail I need an assistant to handle it all. I do get a pretty steady diet of email that comes in from readers, however. Usually short messages letting me know they enjoyed one of my books. So far no death threats or demands for apologies or retractions (knock on wood).
I love getting email from readers. It's why I practically beg at the end of my books for readers to reach out and say hello. I've gotten messages from literally all over the world and from people of all ages. From teens to seniors. I love it. It's probably the most rewarding thing I've found about writing and the single biggest source of inspiration I have. Sure, the royalty checks are nice, but if I never got a review or heard a peep from folks reading my stuff I think I would have lost interest by now and moved on to model planes or something.
This morning I fired up my trusty pal Thunderbird and received one of the nicest and most touching messages I've even gotten from a reader. It's from a woman named Laura from the UK and I asked if it was okay to share here.
Dear Mr Brumm,
I recently read your novel windigo soul and thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm always slightly ashamed to admit that I picked it up when it was on a free day especially as it was a good book worth the money. However, have to thank you for your generosity as otherwise I would likely never have read it.
I have severe nerve damage to the point that pretty much all I can do is use a computer, and keyboard use is limited. I tend to read rather voraciously. You see, for ten years now, I have been restricted in movement after I twisted and ankle that quickly spread up my entire leg and put me in a wheelchair and I have now been confined to bed for 8 years. My condition means I have to have lights low, curtains blacked out and drawn, absolutely no draft (windows and doors shut, even waving a hand slowly over me hurts). I am not telling you this for pity, but because I want you to understand how isolated I am, for all I know the world outside of this house with the exception of my mother is gone.
So I read to escape, but it is a bit like medication. If you are taking a pain killer for along time eventually your body will adapt to the dose then you need more to get the same relief you were getting when you started the dose (I hope that makes sense). The same goes for fiction, but I think age is a part of this process too. A first any book will transport you to another world, but the more you read the more you notice "this is the same plot type as that other book" kind of thing and it takes something more to get that real escapism.
Your book gave me that. For a lovely while I was in a dystopian land with a group of people willing them to succeed. For some reason I enjoy dystopian fiction more than rainbows and unicorns where everybody is happy, I guess that is because life hasn't had as many medical rainbows and unicorns as I would like so I can relate more. I admit I enjoyed the first half, up to the escape attempt the most, seeing the culture, but that isn't to say I didn't enjoy the rest, and by the time the characters were going back in for the rescue I was right back in that world.
So I would like to thank you for great writing and for giving me a chance to escape thee four walls for a while. I wish I could say I will be buying more of your work in the future, but unless it goes on the free offers that won't be possible with what the government thinks is a suitable amount for disabled people to live on, and I wouldn't wish to deceive you.
I wish you all the luck in the world with your writing, you deserve it.
When I started writing years ago I never thought I would receive a message like this. I read it three times in a row and kept double-checking the name to make sure she didn't send it to me by mistake. Laura, I am truly humbled and honored that I was able to provide a little distraction in your life and I'm sorry you have to endure such pain. I don't know what else to say besides thank you.
Over the years I've read some really great books that temporarily took over my life for the short while I got to enjoy them. Ever pick up a book that you couldn't stop thinking about long after you've finished? How about when you decide to call it a night and realize you burned through a few more chapter and somehow an hour just passed? Great books can have such a powerful ability to absorb you into their world and inspire your imagination. That's the intangible quality I strive for in each of my books. If only I could guarantee it for every reader I really would be a highfalutin author.
Since we're on the topic of Windigo Soul, I'm elbow deep in a re-write for the second edition. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I'm not happy with the original novella and hope to polish it into a proper page-turner. Hopefully it'll hit the shelves before the year ends.
What the hey, let's give away some more books! Enter to win a signed copy of my Desolate trilogy via Goodreads.
To enter, simply use the fancy widget below.
Time to take the rafflecopter for another spin! Enter for your chance to win a signed paperback copy of Stage Five!
Two lucky winners will be able to read along with the audio book. Wait, what? That's right, the audio book version will be out soon. Very soon.
I'm very pleased to announce the release of my latest book, Black Water Creek! This was not an easy one for me since it isn't a story I ever pictured myself writing. I truly hope I wrote a good tale that you'll enjoy. I'm proud of the achievement, but since writers are so close to their own work, it's often hard to gauge how other people will experience it. Like a parent with an ugly child, we just don't know unless somebody points it out.
Only the Kindle version is ready for now. Paperback and audio book soon to follow.
I hope you enjoy it and I'm looking forward to getting some feedback. Enjoy and thanks for your support.
Yes, you read that correctly! The DeadPixel Publications Super 99 Cent Super Summer Super Sale is in full swing. Super!
This is your chance to grab some select Kindle titles from our authors for the price of a McValueWich.
These 99 cent prices are only good until this Sunday the 21st, so don't wait! Act now and we will NOT double your order and will NOT charge you additional shipping and handling fees.
Thanks for your support and enjoy the first annual DPPS99CSSSS(That's totally going to catch on, just you watch).
Desolate - The Complete Trilogy: Regular Price $5.99
Windigo Soul: Regular Price $2.99
Stage Five: Regular Price $2.99
The Final Warden: Regular Price $2.99
City of Thunder: Regular Price $2.99
Lord of Vengeance: Regular Price $2.99
Down the Path: Regular Price $2.99
Further: (Down The Path 2): Regular Price $2.99
As some of you may know, my wife Tammy has been waiting for a much needed kidney transplant for almost a year now.
It dawned on me this morning that despite the fact I've almost been begging strangers on the street to donate a kidney to us, I never registered to be an organ donor myself. For shame, me! Even though I got tested and turned down as a match for Tammy, I'm pleased with myself for registering this morning as an organ donor after I die. Now if I get hit by a bus on the way home (why always a bus?) I may provide the gift of life for somebody else.
I was happy to see like lots of things these days, registering online is quick and easy. It literally took me under a minute. I visited www.organdonor.gov, filled out a ridiculously short form, and just like that, my guts are up for grabs.
Why didn't I do it sooner? Well, filling out a form involving my own death didn't exactly leave me feeling warm and fuzzy. I think that's why a lot of us don't do it. In a way, it's accepting our own mortality. Acknowledging that yes, someday we will kick the bucket and here's what we want done with our entrails. Not to mention, I couldn't help picturing some guy in a lab coat scooping out my spleen and tossing it in a cooler as I clicked "submit." Gross.
But all that's silly, really. We all know we're going to die someday and who cares if we're missing some parts when we hit the morgue? Letting them go to waste is what's really silly. Folks like my wife and her fellow dialysis patients wait over two years on average to get a cadaver kidney. Considering how many people die each day, that seems like a really really really long time. Just ask my wife.
Have I shamed you into filling out that form yet? Good, because the more I think about it, there should be a form to opt-out of the donor program instead of opt-in. That's just my gut reaction but it makes sense to me.
Enter to WIN signed copies of my paperbacks: Desolate - The Complete Trilogy, Windigo Soul, and Stage Five. One lucky winner will receive all three books, free of charge and mailed to your door. No purchase necessary.
These signed books are guaranteed* to be worth a fortune one day!
Enter below using as many options as you'd like. Think of the points as lottery tickets. The more you earn, the better your chances. For example, subscribing to my blog will earn you 10 "lottery tickets." Good luck!
*These books are not guaranteed to be worth a fortune one day, however they may be useful for the following purposes: paperweight, fly swatter, spanking, and burning for warmth during the next ice age apocalypse. Next ice age apocalypse also not guaranteed. Studies have found no use for these books in the event of a zombie apocalypse. Books may also be read for entertainment. Entertainment not guaranteed.
Welcome to the SUMMER Kindle Fire Giveaway!
In conjunction with Digital Book Today and some of the best independent authors, The Kindle Book Review is giving away 1 Kindle Fire and Amazon Gift Cards (1-$100, 2-$50)!
Starts: June 1
Ends: June 15
Winners will be announced on June 16-17.
Years ago a simple idea intrigued me. If over-population ever became a serious problem, what could be done about it? Limit births? No-brainer. Forced sterilization? Okay. Euthanizing old people? Hmm. Unlikely yes, but interesting never the less. Thus, the simple premise for Windigo Soul was born. Everybody dies on their 60th birthday.
When I self-published Windigo Soul in early 2012 I didn't really know what to expect. I thought it was good, but like a parent with a really ugly kid, you never know how the rest of the world sees your baby unless they tell you.
As of this writing, I've got 251 reviews on Amazon. 101 five stars and 102 four stars. Despite what the eight people who wrote one star reviews might think, I never begged, bribed, or forced anybody to leave me a good review and out of those 203 people I personally know maybe 20. The rest are complete strangers who have no reason to spare my feeling.
Since February of 2012, I've sold and given away a little over 63,000 copies of Windigo Soul. I've made a few bucks, a good number of friends, and hopefully provided a little distraction and entertainment to a good number of people.
Although I'm proud of how well this book has done, I continue to feel guilty about it. As I work on other projects and books, every time I see that birthday candle staring at me, it's a constant reminder of what I feel is unfinished business that could have been so much more.
W.S. barely clocks in at 35,000 words and is considered a novella. It's short because I ran out of steam, grew tired of it, and just wanted to be done already. I left out a lot of what I originally had planned for the story and I think it shows with the rushed ending. One comment I continually get in reviews (besides Soylent Green comparisons. Ug.) are requests for a sequel. People want to know what happens next. They want to know more about the world Hank, Peg, John, and Sara live in.
When I clicked the publish button I never intended to write a sequel. I was so sick of that manuscript I never wanted to enter that world again. It's time to jump back in.
Instead of writing and releasing a sequel, I'm planning on re-writing Windigo Soul, adding 20,000 to 30,000 words, and publishing it as a second edition. Why? Because it should have been a full length novel to begin with and I've developed some Mad Skillz since writing the original. Perhaps I've got George Lucas syndrome, but I feel I can write the story again and make it better. As a nice bonus, anybody who bought the original will be able to download the updated version for free. What's up Lucas? I seem to recall having to pay to hear Jar Jar yell "We'sah free!" at the end of Jedi.
I'm not sure what's in store for the Reed and Sanderson families yet, but I'm going to enjoy getting to know them again and join in on their adventures. Expect the new and improved Windigo Soul before the end of the year. Until then, here's a taste:
His left eye was completely swollen shut and it would only take a few more blows for his right to follow. After everything he’d been through, that was the most terrifying thought of the day – not being able to see what was coming next. Funny how quickly the concept of day and night had already become obscure. He had no idea which it was, locked in the windowless room as the hours melted into one another. The merciful escape of sleep was kept from him like everything else since they’d taken him in for questioning.
He turned his head, wincing at the pain in his neck and spit more blood on the floor, adding to the mess already there. He carefully removed the red soaked rag from his hand the last goon had tossed at him before leaving, right after his ring finger hit the floor. He held up his hand to the light, trying not to move his remaining two fingers as it just made the pain worse. At least the bleeding had slowed.
The last guy didn’t even ask him any questions. Never said a word. He simply took a few laps around the chair before picking up the bolt cutters leaning against the wall and cut off another digit. They had his hands bound so tightly behind him on the chair he couldn’t so much as wiggle his fingers, a commodity that were quickly diminishing in numbers. He didn’t know which sound was worse, the snap of the bone from the steel teeth or his finger bouncing off the concrete floor. He was able to hear both of them last time only because his throat was so dry and sore his scream barely made a sound.
At least his hands were free for the time being. Only his ankles were bound to the metal chair, but it didn’t matter much. At this point he was so weak he doubted if he could even stand on his own.
He caught himself as his head dipped and he snapped to attention, fighting the strong urge to let sleep overcome him. By now he’d learned the routine. He knew they were watching him, always watching, waiting for him to doze for just a minute before storming in and starting all over again. He knew if he could just stay awake he’d earn himself a few extra minutes of peace.
The door opened and he recoiled out of reflex, a pathetic squeak escaping from his throat. It was too soon. They were changing the rules of the game, taking it up a notch and it wasn’t fair. Wasn’t fair at all.
“Jesus Christ,” the voice at the door hissed. “For the love of…Hey! Somebody get me some water.” Voices in the hallway. Shuffling of feet.
The door closed and the man approached. A hand rested gently on his shoulder. “Those bastards,” he whispered. “Reaper. Can you hear me, son?”
He opened his good eye, taking in a pair of expensive looking wing tips in front of him. The hand still rested on his shoulder squeezed.
Carter. It was the first time any of them had used his name. Probably a new tactic. Something one of the Psy Ops bastards on the other side of the glass suggested to earn his paycheck.
“Carter, it’s me, Victor. Have some water.”
He finally looked up and saw the first friendly face in what felt like weeks. Victor Young held out of glass of water and carefully guided it to his shaking hands. The cold water burned like fire going down, cramping his stomach and almost coming back up. He drained the glass and almost dropped it before Victor caught it and set it on the table. He dragged a chair from the corner of the room and sat directly in front of him.
“Those bastards,” Young said again. “I can’t believe they’re treating you like this. Trust me, when all of this nonsense is over, heads are going to roll.”
Carter struggled for words, overcome with emotion at the sight of his supervisor. “Brother,” he finally managed. “Please help me. Tell them I don’t know anything. It’ll mean something coming from you.”
“Shhh,” Young patted his knee. “I’m doing everything thing I can. We’ll get this mess sorted out, trust me.” He took a handkerchief out of his breast pocket and offered it to Carter, motioning at his bloody finger stumps.
Young glanced at the one way mirror at the far end of the room and leaned forward. “Listen, if I’m going to be able to help you I have to know everything, Carter. I can’t pull any strings unless I know every angle, every detail. It’s not too late to recover from this, but they have to know where your loyalties lie. Do you honestly think he’d suffer through all this for you if the roles were reversed? What are you holding out for?”
Carter groaned. “Goddammit, Victor. I keep telling them and I’m telling you, I don’t know anything. I haven’t seen John for weeks. He never told me anything, why can’t they just believe that?”
“Carter, it’s me. Enough with the lies. Think of how it looks from their prospective. You’ve worked with Sanderson for over ten years and it’s well documented you two are friends outside of the agency. How can you think for a second they’d believe you don’t know anything? Sanderson just woke up that morning and decided to go rogue, just like that? Operators simply do not jeopardize their lives and their career on a whim. Especially not John.”
Carter hung his head, trying to ignore the searing pain going up his entire arm. “He was going through a rough patch with his wife but I swear, that’s the last thing we talked about. I didn’t even know his father in law was still alive until they brought me in here.”
He lift his head and looked Young in the eye. “I just want to go home now. Denise must be worried sick. Just let me go home and I’ll help with the investigation any way I can, I swear. My loyalties lie with the State. You know that, Brother.”
Young sighed and nodded. “You really don’t know anything, do you? You’re being completely honest?”
“Of course,” Carter smiled.
Young rose to his feet and nodded at the mirror. A moment later the door opened and two men entered, one holding a syringe.
“What’s going on?” Carter looked to his supervisor for answers.
“I’m sorry to see you go, Reaper. You’re a good operator with big shoes to fill. Take solace in the fact they decided to let you fulfill your final patriotic duty to the State.”
Carter barely noticed as one of the men stood behind him and placed his hands on his shoulders, preparing for resistance. He barely felt the prick of the needle as it pierced his skin. Tears silently fell down his cheeks, finding their way into the many cuts and fissures on his face. The pain barely registered.
“Denise,” he said. “Keep an eye out for her, would you? Make sure she’s okay.”
Young put his hand on Carter’s shoulder again. “Don’t worry, Brother. She’s fine. As a matter of fact, she’s in another room just down the hall.”
The edges of Carter's vision grew dark and his hearing start to fade as the drug flowed through his system. “What?”
“I just spoke to Denise before I came to see you,” Young said, his warm smile gone. “I can’t make any promises, but I think I’ll be able to get you two assigned to the same boiler room. Maybe your pod will be right next to hers.”
Carter tried to lunge at Young. The man behind grabbed him and slammed him back into the chair. “You bastard,” he said, fighting to stay awake and resisting the overwhelming urge to let the sedative take him under. “You’re not here to help me at all. You’re just another part of game.”
Young crouched down so he was face to face with Carter. “Don’t take it so personal, Brother. As you know, tradition says operators are cremated straight away after retirement as a show of respect. But in your case we needed to make an exception. Thanks to the little stunt Razorback and his new friends pulled at Windigo, the FDR needs warm bodies more than ever.”
Carter found his anger was slipping away as Young stood and went for the door, mentioning something to the other two men in the room but he didn’t hear it. It wasn’t so bad. His pain was gone and a pleasant numbness washed over him. The game was over, and he allowed himself to close his good eye and let the warm darkness take him.
Young closed the door behind him, surprised to see Rebecca Devlin waiting for him in the corridor. He’d only seen the director of the agency in person twice in his twenty year career, the last time over five years ago when he was promoted to sector three supervisor. Devlin was one of the most powerful people in the UFN, part of the handful that reported directly to the Father, and therefore excused her from retirement. Devlin would be allowed to serve the State until her natural death, something that wasn’t too far off, judging by her appearance.
“Victor.” She smiled, revealing unnaturally white teeth. “So good to see you again.”
“Sister Devlin, what a surprise to see you, Ma’am.” He pointed to the door behind him. “I was just finishing up with one of the men connected to the traitor.”
“Yes, I watched the whole thing from the next room. Good job in there. Just as I would have handled it myself.” Devlin erupted in a coughing attack, covering her mouth with one hand, holding up her index finger with the another. The coughing tapered off and she wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. “Let’s sit down for a moment, Victor. Have a little chat.” She motioned at the door to the interrogation room across the hall.
“With all due respect, I think we’d be more comfortable in my office, Sister. It’s just on the other side of the building.” Young turned around and realized the interrogator who cut off Reaper’s fingers was standing behind him.
“More comfortable, perhaps. But I think this particular room is a more appropriate setting.” Devlin entered the room and the goon behind Young placed a hand on his back, guiding him through the entry before closing the door.