Happy New Year!
A former student of mine was home from university for the holidays and ran up to me in the grocery store today, "Seven Crows was amazing, I need a whole bunch more copies for friends of mine at university. I literally have a sign out sheet for my copy, so many people want to borrow it!"
Awesome start to the new year, thanks!
Which brings me to my uber-should-have-been-obvious insight of the day. I can make an order for copies (any number big or small) of Seven Crows at any time and ship them anywhere. So if anyone wants a bunch of copies (unfortunately unsigned) just email me and we can arrange a shipment to be delivered directly to you.
Have not been writing as much as I should, booo! Sorry, been focused on my gaming a lot lately, both for fun and research. My wife and I got our first Kickstarter backed board game this holiday, Euphoria, an amazing board game that we are enjoying a lot!
I wrote a short story about one of the agents in the game, Amanda the Broker, and a situation that could actually occur in the game. Good stuff, enjoy, and check out Euphoria at:
Need: a Euphoria Short Story
- Amanda the Broker -
by Justin Killam
“Really, this is all you have to offer me?”
Her voice came out smooth as silk, filled with the promise of happiness and loss of pain. It could have been the sound of a rusty grate dragging across metal teeth, for all that he cared. His attention was captured completely by only one thing; the vial in her hand, full of magically swirling clouds of lightly glowing green.
He wanted it, needed it, would do anything to get it... Unconsciously licking his lips, and wringing his hands, he glanced away from the vial and up into her eyes. There he found no promise of pleasure, only a steely gaze of disappointment and denial. He whimpered, the shakes coming over him uncontrollably.
“Really now, you know what I need,” she said, boring into him with those cold eyes while flashing a winning smile. With a flicker of her hand, the wonderful vial disappeared, “so come back when you have it.”
Once more the pathetic wretch before her whimpered, “I can’t get it... I’m not allowed to work in the tunnels any longer...” Tears sprung unwilling from his eyes, “please, I just need...”
She leaned down towards him, wrapping an arm around his quaking shoulders and pulling him into a comforting embrace. “Shhhh... I know,” she whispered, soothingly. “I know how hard it is, when you can’t get what you need. I know... I know...”
Slowly his shaking began to lessen and she released him. His eyes darted over her, seeking the vial, but it was still absent.
“I have a need just as bad as you do, my friend. Do you believe me?”
He nodded, but only slightly.
“Good, and will you help me get my need if I help you with yours?”
This time he nodded much more enthusiastically, hope flooding his watery eyes.
She smiled, once more speaking with a voice full of that promise of satisfaction, “good boy.”
She pulled out that blessed vial of green bliss and put it in a small container that locked closed with a quiet hiss and a snap. A worker designation was printed on the side. Then she passed it over, watching with satisfaction as he took it from her with only a slight tremor in his hands.
“Take this to the incinerator, do you know the place? Can you get work there?”
He nodded again and her smile blossomed more fully.
“Good, I have a friend working there now, take this to him and tell him Amanda needs him back. Then you both can share it, yes?”
This time he was practically hitting his chest with his chin, so forcefully was he nodding his head back and forth. He turned to leave, but she caught hold of his arm and spun him back towards her. Gone was the warmth of her smile and the understanding in her voice, leaving nothing but the icy steel in her eyes.
“Do not come back here, ever again, unless you are bringing me exactly what I need. Do you understand?”
He nodded slowly and carefully, and she let him leave the Apothecary to scurry back to the streets of the golden city; a city that was quickly becoming hers. She smiled at that as she returned to the counter, but the smile faded as she picked up the ever-annoyingly-ineffective tablet and went back to her work.
Messages from her many contacts flooded in, filtered and sorted by field of interest and importance. The bulk of messages came from her own people, the Icarites. An increasing percentage of them were hate filled threats. She chuckled and trashed them all. Let her people whine and protest all they wanted, all trade between the Icarites and Euphoria would continue to be channelled through the Apothecary of Productive Dreams, of which Amanda was the sole owner. The Bliss would flow, but only by her directive.
She sifted through the other messages, organizing and redirecting her interests, everything moving towards the inevitable conclusion of her gaining dominion over all Euphoria. Things continued to move according to plan, which was pleasing, yet no smile touched her face. As each task was completed using the electronic tablet, her annoyance grew.
“Not fast enough!” she abruptly screeched.
With a scowl, she tossed the tablet across the table, uncaring when it crashed to the floor. She sat there, trying to calm herself, but her mind flashed back to what she needed... the intimate connection of mind to Org, completing digital efficiency directed by pure thought. The freedom and the power of a digital existence; her addiction. Promised to her, but kept unsatiated and dangling before her in this golden city with its own private server of virtual and augmented reality.
Amanda opened her eyes as her own words, spoken earlier to the Euphorian addict, echoed back to her. She knew she would never get what she needed, unless she had exactly what her secret benefactor needed. With a sigh, she cleaned up the shattered pieces of the tablet, and found a replacement so she could get back to work. She would get what he needed, and then she would find her own bliss in the Org once again.
She had work to do, this time she went back to it with renewed purpose. Hours later, after dark had fallen and she was still working, she stopped only when there was a rumble from outside in the streets. She looked up from her tablet, eyes reddened by the strain of staring at the screen for so long.
“What was that?” she asked herself.
Outside, people ran by the shop. Their silhouettes flickered across the front windows of the Apothecary, and Amanda’s curiosity grew. She secured the tablet with its record of her secret manipulations, and left the shop to follow the growing crowd of Euphorians. Dread claimed her only when the street lights began to dim and flicker off and on. The energy, Euphoria’s greatest commodity and the source of its power, was being drained.
Amanda stopped following the growing crowd of people running towards the source of the rumble. She didn’t need to see what was going on, she already knew. The Wastelanders had broken through the protective walls of the city. They were stealing the city’s power, her power. All her plans began to fall apart and she wondered if the Org would ever be hers.
It was all she could do not to sit down on the curb and cry.