Hi, folks! I just sent the final draft of Half Empty Half Full, the second book in my Spaceship Huey Adventures series, to the proofreader for editing. Soon the brilliant Ivan Zanchetta will begin work on the art for the cover. I thought you guys might want to get a sneak peek at some of the story, so here's the Prologue! Let me know what you think
Bernie Cosner felt
extremely confident. In fact, he was on top of the world.
He stood with his
hands on his hips, nodding in satisfaction as the flood lights illuminated the
scene below, replacing the fading rays of the sun. Two giant excavation
vehicles, each of their sixteen tires easily three times his own height, gouged
away at opposite ends of the strip mine. A fleet of smaller trucks hauled
meronium-rich ore back and forth between the excavators and a line of field
smelters, each of which had been grinding away non-stop since morning,
extracting the precious metal from the ore and converting it into ingots the
size of bricks.
Each of those ingots
was worth enough credits to feed and clothe a typical family of five for a
lifetime, plus send three kids to college, finance their first homes, and
provide the best medical care for the next generation. And, as field manager
for the mine, Bernie’s contract with THE Corporation afforded him a nice bonus
for each ingot produced. He licked his lips. He was going to be rich.
This first day of
the operation had gone so smoothly, he’d decided to add an extra shift and work
through the night. THE was shuttling down a second crew around midnight, along
with a more permanent structure to house the workers, replacing the cluster of
tents erected near the field office behind him. It meant an eighteen-hour shift
for the guys working now, but they could handle it, and he could work up an
easier shift rotation once everything was in place.
He sighed in
satisfaction. Time to report in. He turned away from the glorious view
and entered the field office. Settling himself comfortably in front of the comm
center, he beamed a call to a THE freighter in stationary orbit thirty-six
thousand kilometers above.
answered a voice. “How’s it going down there? Still want us to send that second
Bernie answered. “We’ve got a load of ingots for you to pick up, too. I swear,
we made enough today to cover the cost of the entire operation for the next
There was a low
whistle in response. “Well, they said it was a rich deposit. Makes you wonder
why we didn’t do this sooner, even if this planet is as far out in the boonies
as it could get.”
“I have a theory
about that,” Bernie offered.
“Yeah. It’s the
times, man. The Central Authority is starting to be a pain in the ass, and so
are the pirates in the Cyprian Sector. The Corporation wants battle cruisers.
We’re going to get enough meronium out of this mine to build an entire fleet.”
“You’re dreaming, man.”
“Laugh, if you
want, but mark my words. Wait ‘til you see the load I’ve got for you.”
“Okay, if you say
so. ETA is 2345 hours. Anything else?”
about it. He felt like chatting. “Hold on,” he said. His comm chit was buzzing.
He pulled the device from his pocket and noted the caller id. “Henson, my shift
leader’s calling. I better take it. See you around midnight.”
“I’ll be there.”
Henson terminated the call.
the call on his chit. The face of his shift leader appeared on the screen.
“What’s wrong, Joe? I don’t hear the happy sounds of mining in the background.”
“We have a
situation, sir. One of the locals showed up from Logans Ford. He started
ranting about how we can’t work up here at night, that there’s some monster
roaming the hills, feasting on the blood of miners. He’s starting to scare some
of the crew.”
“Jesus, Joe, what
kind of wimps have you got working down there? Tell the guy to shut his trap
and send him on his way.”
asked him politely to leave.”
Joe winced. “Sir,
this guy’s kind of a handful. He’s very adamant that …”
“Fine,” Bernie interrupted,
in irritation. “I’ll take care of it. Be right there.” He ended the call and
pushed himself from his chair. He stalked across the room and opened the door
to a large storeroom. Hanging on the door was a shoulder harness into which was
holstered both a large caliber pistol and a taser. He strapped on the harness,
stalked to the front door, and flung it open.
He was brought up
short by a blood-curdling scream.
The floodlit scene
below him was chaos. Men were running in all directions from a cluster of
partially dismembered bodies. A large dark shape moved among them, cutting them
down in mid-stride. The thing moved so fast, it was a blur, until it paused for
a split second to rip open the cab of one of the trucks and extract the driver,
whose scream was cut off in the instant his head was hurled into the air.
Bernie’s eyes were
like saucers. What in God’s name … His hand automatically wrapped itself
around the pistol, but he didn’t withdraw it from the holster. Instead, he
slammed the office door closed, fastened the deadbolt, and scrambled to the
He pressed the
call button and shouted into the microphone, “Henson! Henson! Answer me,
The unit crackled
in response. “Cosner? What’s the matter?”
“Get that shuttle
down here asap!”
Cosner. What the hell?”
into the office building, rocking it on its foundation. Bernie gripped the desk
to keep from falling out of his chair. “For God’s sake, Henson, get me out of
here, now!” He heard the door being ripped off its hinges behind him. Something
snaked around his leg, gripped it tightly, and tore him from his chair.
thousand kilometers above, Henson frowned as the screams coming through his
comm speaker suddenly stopped. “Cosner?” He tried again. “Cosner!” Nothing. He
swiveled his chair to regard a man standing in the doorway, in THE full-dress
The man raised a
coffee cup to his lips and took a sip. “I heard,” he nodded.
“Should I send the
The man considered
for a moment. He took another sip from his cup. “Let’s wait until morning,” he
sighed. “Don’t bother sending the second shift of miners. I’ll take my own team
down, pick up the meronium ingots, and gather information for a final report.”
“Yes, sir,” Henson acknowledged. He reached over and switched off the comm unit.