Category Archives: Science Fiction Books

Exiles of Raifor (Raifor Saga 1) by Claude Ashton @raiforsaga

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Science Fiction, Fantasy,  Action, Adventure

The Cataclysm devastated the galaxy. It destroyed worlds and wiped out entire species. That was over four hundred years ago. It ended in the unification of the galaxy under one rule. Thus the Great Eternal Empire of Raifor was formed. At its head sat the Nobles, descendants of the First Emperor imbued with powers that not even the Magus of the seven orders could hope to match. For millennia they have followed a strict system of succession. Now, for the first time since its inception, that system has failed and war has returned to the galaxy. It is up to the Exiles to make it right.

On the backwater planet of Erelia the war has already taken its toll. Aosen Yenra waits in a bunker with the thousands of civilians he’s managed to save from the nuclear bombardment of their world. Radiation threatens to kill the survivors slowly, and time is running out. His search for answers will lead him to an ancient ship, and the secrets held within.

Bach-Ti the Pirate Queen has just organized the grandest heist of her long career. The war, however, will alter her journey in a way she and her crew could never have expected. Someone wants the Pirate Queen dead, and she won’t rest until she finds out whom.

Meanwhile on the planet Navia, the young heiress Lanoel Rai Devroux is also waiting for someone to rescue her from her responsibilities. When the deposed Empress arrives on her world she brings with her something that will change Lanoel’s life forever. But is it a blessing, or a curse?

Iloesten Rai Kenos is a woman renowned for her brilliance in battle, and her cruelty. She leaves no survivors, and takes no prisoners, but she must do more to prove herself as something greater than a kinslayer. When she learns of the fabled relic ships, she believes she has finally found the answer. Will her thirst for power be quenched, or will she again fall short of her goals?

These are the Exiles, and this is their journey. They must trust those around them to achieve their goals, and most of all they need to trust in the aether.

Lose yourself in the universe of Raifor, where magic and science meet. Exiles of Raifor is an action packed blend of science fiction and fantasy that is sure to leave you wanting more. Explore new worlds, meet new characters, take part in an adventure which spans an entire galaxy. Enjoy the debut of a new name in Science Fiction and Fantasy.

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This wasn’t the first time the Pirate Queen had an attempt on her life, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last, but she was usually up for the challenge. Before she could react the Assassin was nearly on top of her, she caught a glimpse of its Cze blade dancing through the smoke, and the distinct click of aethersteel armor boots against the floor. She ducked her head to the side as the Cze blade sliced through the air above her harmlessly. She rolled away from the attacker and pushed herself onto her feet. The sudden movement sent her head swimming, and suddenly there were two assassins where there was only one.

The Assassin saw that she was disoriented and started to laugh, the laugh was distinctly female, with the feral hint of a Saqu. “You know, I thought the famous Pirate Queen would put up more of a fight. You’d think this ship would be much harder to infiltrate, let alone disable. I suppose it is just an old piece of junk though.”

Bach-Ti thought she recognized the voice, and squinted to make out the insignia on the aethersteel Armor. “Leland Xen, what the hell are ya doin’ on my ship?” She took a deep breath, and her training began to come to her. She started seeking the aether in her blood.

“Oh, you know, just your every day run of the mill assassination. You finally pissed off the wrong lot ‘Pirate Queen’. I’m not sure who is willing to put this many credits out on you. Not surprised about it though. In fact the only real shock here is that I was the first one to try to collect on the bounty. By the looks of it, I’ll be the last.”

Bach-Ti felt her blood burning. Her muscles were growing stronger and her vision sharper. She felt the headache soothing and balled her hands into a fist. “Yer certainly not the first person to try to collect on a bounty on my head. Who put this one out then? One of the corporations? Some pleasure line that isn’t too happy about my latest exploits? Maybe a jilted old lover? I’ve heard all of the stories.”

“Anonymous. I guess whoever you did piss off doesn’t want to risk you coming after them. As if there’s a chance of that though.” Leland twirled her Cze blade playfully in one hand, and had her plasma pistol trained on Bach-Ti with the other. “The only stipulation was to bring you in. Dead or alive.” The bounty hunter didn’t give Bach-Ti the chance to respond, she opened fire once the last word left her maw.

Bach-Ti called on the aether around her, and dashed to the side. The tattoos on her neck and back began to glow green and she had her prey in her sights. Her legs were like powerful springs beneath her, and she used them to push herself towards Leland. The aethersteel armor Leland wore was enough to protect her from Cze blades, explosions, plasma bolts and radiation. Bach-Ti knew this, and ignored it all as she channeled her aether into her fist and threw it into the gut of the bounty hunter. The force of the punch caused a dent in the armor, and sent a shock wave through Leland’s body.

The Bounty Hunter dropped to the ground; her playful words and taunting were replaced only by a gurgling sound. Bach-Ti knelt down and removed her helmet. She liked to see the looks in the eyes of the people she killed. She reached over and took the pistol from the hands of the hunter. Leland’s eyes were wide open in shock, a trail of blood tricked from her maw, and her eyes were focused on the ceiling. She whispered only one word. “Mountain.”

Bach-Ti smiled, the aether within her had returned to its normal levels, and the burning tattoos on her back had cooled. The sudden rush caused her to stumble slightly. She steadied herself and put the pistol to Leland’s head. “Yes dear. I’m one of those. It’s not exactly a closely guarded secret. Well, ya know we all make mistakes. That’s the problem with being a freelance merc. Sometimes ya miss details that could have saved yer life. It’s why I chose to be a pirate. Enough about me though, ya know they say every bad deed can be forgiven at least once. Unfortunately for ya.” Bach-Ti pulled the trigger, and there was a small smoldering hole in the head of the Saqu. “I’m not very forgivin’.”

The full pain of her head injury hit her all at once. That was the biggest downfall of a mountain Magus. Unlike the other orders which gathered aether from outside sources, the Order of the Mountain used the aether stored in the blood and amplified it. This gave an increase in speed, strength and perception, but once the aether was used it meant any injury they were suffering or suffered would hit them with an equal increase. Bach-Ti felt dizzy, and then she felt her morning meal rise from her stomach and end up on the floor. She tried to find her feet but the entire ship spun, and she collapsed in a heap on top of Leland’s corpse.

When she opened her eyes, she was being carried by a pair of strong arms. “Amo?”

“Yeah boss, Doc says to take you to your quarters. She says she’s not sure how you managed to kill a bounty hunter in your condition. You just need to get some rest.” Amo opened her door and set her down on her bed. “Don’t worry about the ships that are coming in, Xitti and I can handle it. I also took care of a couple of other mercs that snuck in; I don’t think Leland was workin’ alone. Don’t worry about it though, like I said we can handle it. You just get some rest.”

“Ships? What ships?” She felt a sudden rush of adrenaline, and tried to get out of bed, but the ship spun again and she collapsed. “I’ll…” She felt darkness take her as the klaxons began to sound again.

About Claude Ashton:

Claude Ashton is a new writer on the scene. His first book, Exiles of Raifor is a Science-Fiction/Fantasy Adventure, and was released on May 11th, 2013. Claude started writing short stories in Middle School, and continued this through High School. During this time he honed his craft on message boards and in online roleplaying games, immersing himself in his characters and in the worlds built by others. He graduated from Red Bank Regional High School in 2005 and started college with the intent of becoming a journalist. Along the way he found that he was much more adept at fixing computers than interviewing others, so he changed his focus to Information Technology. After taking some time in this field, he decided that it was time for him to start building the world he had always dreamed of. What started as a world led to two worlds, which led to a solar system, then a galaxy. This galaxy was the universe of Raifor, a mix of science fiction and fantasy elements. In 2013, after building and shaping the universe, he sat down to write and publish his first book.

When he is not writing, he is usually nose deep in a book, or playing all manner of video games with his friends.

He is currently writing the second book in the Raifor Saga, Heroes of Raifor.

 Connect With Claude Ashton:





Amazon Author Page


In your own words, describe your book: Gee, this is always very hard for me. If I were to describe it in my own words I would say that it’s a science fiction fantasy adventure novel. It’s about four characters and how they will deal with a galactic civil war which has essentially turned all of their lives upside down. IT features a diverse and interesting cast of characters, and is very action driven. The characters come from all corners of the galaxy and each one of them has a part to play in ending the war, but things aren’t as they seem. Unseen forces appear to be pulling the strings, and what original seemed like fate, now seems as if these characters are being moved around a board by someone. The series is about solving that mystery, and trying to save the galaxy from total destruction.

What is the genre? Science Fiction/Fantasy It’s a smooth blend of both. I’d actually prefer to call it Space Fantasy.

What inspired you to write this book? I wanted to write something that I didn’t feel many people were writing. When I was looking for science fiction novels I really didn’t think there was enough of a blend of fantasy in there. I wanted to see something with dragons, and gryphons, elves and magic, but in space! I didn’t feel it existed in an acceptable form, so I did it myself.

Will this book be a standalone or part of the series? It will be part of a series. The series will be the Raifor Saga, and will involve not only this period of time, but other eras in the Empire of Raifor. The stories will be told in three book arcs, and while there will be some crossover of characters, the arcs themselves will be standalone. The only exception to this will be the first two arcs. The first arc will involve a period known as the Schism War, which is the civil war that is currently affecting everything in the galaxy, but it is revealed during this war that other forces are manipulating the citizens of Raifor. The second arc will involve the struggle against those forces, and will take place almost immediately after the conclusion of the Schism War. Future arcs will take place either prior to the Schism War, or later in the timeline.

What message would you like to convey with this book?  Each book has a different theme, and they are all meant to convey a different message. Since we’re mostly referring to Exiles of Raifor, the theme there is dependence. Everyone needs someone, but it’s a good idea to ration that out. You don’t want to rely too heavily on others around you, or you’ll end up weak and ineffective without them. On the other hand, no one is an island, and you do occasionally need help, so don’t be afraid to ask for it. All of my characters in some way play into that particular theme.

What books are similar to this one?  I honestly can’t think of any book that is exactly like Exiles of Raifor. If you enjoy the setting of my novels, then Frank Herbert’s Dune series is certainly worth checking out. If you like the fast pace, then the Icewind Dale Trilogy by R.A. Salvatore is a must read. If you enjoy the cast of characters then I would recommend the Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan or the Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. If you enjoyed any of those then I think you would enjoy Exiles of Raifor.

Can you tell us some about the writer behind the book?  There’s not much to know about me. I’m actually a very simple and boring man. I’m a twenty-six years old black man, and I enjoy playing Video Games in my spare time. I love my family, and I’ve lived in the same town my entire life. I went to Red Bank Regional High School and graduated in 2005. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of space, spaceships and faster than light travel. I’ve enjoyed fantasy since I was old enough to read. It’s always been my dream to write, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop doing it.

Tell us one thing about you we wouldn’t know? I still haven’t finished college. It’s something I plan to do someday, but as of now I still haven’t completed my degree.

What are you working on now?  I am currently in the process of editing my second novel Heroes of Raifor, as well as building the framework for my third title which is an as of yet untitled work in a new series.

Science Fiction Romance: Taken: The Vampire’s Concubine Part One by Desiree Broussard

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Vampire Romance, Science Fiction Romance, Futuristic Romance

taken vampire concubine 1 cover new

Keely was used to fighting to survive. It was the only way to live in the ruined and ravaged remains of humanity. Never in her wildest dreams did she really believe that vampires were real. At least she didn’t until the night she was abducted.

Taken and held captive with four other women, they quickly learn the reason for their abduction. Due to a genetic fluke, their blood contains the v factor… and the vampires want them to repopulate their world.

Expected to participate in a market and pick a mate, Keely is floored by her attraction to the sexy vampire that guards her. But he’s not the only one that wants her. How can any female choose?

$.99 on Amazon Kindle

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About the Author:

I’ve always had a fascination with vampires. My ideal man evolved from tall, dark, and sexy to tall, dark, and sexy with fangs. And so my fantasy was born.

My first release is Taken: The Vampire’s Concubine (Part One). If you like a safe and neat series, this is not for you. Taken is very dark in nature, with strong sexual themes, dangerous situations, and Gothic undertones throughout it. When you open the pages to my series, you’re stepping into a world ruled by beings that survive on blood. There’s nothing safe about that.

The year is 2050, and Keely has just been abducted from her home in small-town USA. Blindfolded and bound, she is taken into outer space and delivered into a world with three moons and no sun. Almost immediately, she discovers her fate. Due to a rare blood factor she’s been taken and now she’s expected to select a male vampire mate and breed.

The attraction between her and her guard is instantaneous, but where can it lead? Now a concubine, Keely is taken for her grooming. The market is quickly approaching, her future dark and uncertain. She’s destined to be a vampire’s concubine, but which one will she pick?

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$.99! Science Fiction Boxset Spotlight: The Almost Series: Books 1-3 by Christina Leigh Pritchard @teeny120

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Science Fiction, Genetic Engineering, Romantic Suspense

the almost series box set

Publisher: Limitless Publishing LLC

S.H.A.Y. – BOOK #1

Shay is scientific experiment #318. Science may have created her, but she refuses to allow it to blind her to the difference between right and wrong…

Synthetic Hominid Assumed Youth (S.H.A.Y.) is eighteen years old, which means she has completed Phase One: Developmental. Shay no longer requires the assistance of her Optional Human Parent, Darla, who has guided her in the process of discovering her morality. Shay loves her easy, charming life aboard the marine research facility and doesn’t want it to change.

Phase Two: Experimental. All S.H.A.Y. ages 18-20 will experience loss…

Darla shouldn’t have to die because of an experiment. The thought of losing the only parent she’s ever known is too much. Determined to make sure the scientists at the facility don’t get their way, Shay entraps Darla in a transport device to escape across the Miami Border. There, on the mainland, law enforcement will keep her human parent safe.

Escape Mission: Failed…

E.R.I.C. – BOOK #2

Reprogram of E.R.I.C. initiated. Download complete in 3…2…1…

The sweet, charming Eric that Shay knew is officially gone. He’s been reprogrammed by Dr. Cole and the other scientists aboard the marine research facility that developed Shay. Now, instead of assisting Shay in her grand scheme to save her Optional Human Parent, Darla, from certain death, Eric has been reprogrammed to kill them both. That intimate moment on the beach they shared…lost forever.

Mission complete: Suspect (S.H.A.Y.) captured…

With Eric’s help, Dr. Cole finds Shay and takes her back to the research facility where she will remain until she can be linked to her robotic host and terminated. Shay is placed into the care of a new program called N.I.C. that will analyze her data and keep her safe. Except, if the N.I.C. discovers Shay has already linked, he will initiate her termination immediately, ending any chance Shay has of saving Darla.

N.I.C. – BOOK #3

Escape Marine Research: Complete. Survival mode activated…

Shay and her Optional Human Parent Darla escape Dr. Cole and make it across the Miami border from the Marine Research Facility, but their safety comes at a hefty price. Shay thought hitting Eric in the head would save him from being reset, but there was too much blood. She has no idea if he survived or what will happen to N.I.C. without her there.

Capture of S.H.A.Y. initiated. Hybrid hunter released…

If a highly skilled hybrid hunter tracking her through the streets of Miami isn’t enough to worry about, Shay’s corporate sponsor Endre wants something from her too. Threats are in motion to terminate N.I.C. and pull the plug on Shay’s A.M.I.E., essentially killing them both. Shay has no choice but to make a deal with Endre to create inventions for him to sell to potential financial sponsors. But when he ups the stakes and wants Shay to help create a weapon of war, she refuses. She’ll just have to find another way to save N.I.C. and find Eric.

Shay’s death is certain. There is nowhere else to run…

On sale for $.99 or free with Kindle Unlimited

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S.H.A.Y. argues with the E.R.I.C.

“Well then, I’m not going to get in the water.” I bent over, snatching my clothes. He helped me, handing me my shirt. I snatched it from him. “I’ll just wait up here for you to get back.”

He laughed, poking me in the stomach. “Look, creampuff, I’m not going in without you.”

“Oh yes you will, or I’ll—”

“You’ll what? Talk to yourself some more?”

I narrowed my eyes at him, stumbling as I tugged my pants on.

“You’re the one who needs my help, remember?”

“You make me sick.” My shirt slipped down over my head and I struggled with the buttons.

He smiled. “Take your clothes off.”

“Don’t tell me what to do.”

Amie groaned. She stood beside me, rolling her eyes. “You’re just creating more and more sexual tension with the E.R.I.C. Soon, you’ll forget all about your Darla and I’ll have no human mother for S.H.A.Y. 319.”

“I won’t!” I unzipped my pants again. “I’ll do whatever it takes to save them both.”

Eric backed away. “Whoa, there, I was just teasing you.”

“I’m not talking to you.”

He rolled his eyes. “Right, I forgot, you have others here with you.”

“I’m not doing this for you, you’re the enemy. I’m trying to save my, my—”

“You’re trying to save your ‘what’ exactly?”

“It doesn’t concern you. Just follow me into the water. That way, we can get started.”

“Are you hitting on me?” His eyes widened. “I enjoy a little banter and all, but—”

I shoved him. “Like I’d ever flirt with you.”

About the Author:

tina pritchard

Voted “New and Noteworthy” by USA Book News, Christina Leigh Pritchard was born and raised in South Florida where she’s penned over fifty stories.

She’s recently signed with Limitless Publishing for her ALMOST Series, takes on contract work, and continues writing her books.

Her style is any genre, as long as it’s character driven where both hero and villain are not clearly defined. Pritchard says that she wants “…her characters to linger in a reader’s mind, rather than be easily forgotten”. She loves to create new worlds and prefers to venture outside the box. With a short attention span, she writes stories that move quickly, absorb their reader into her world, and usually receives comments that the story was too short.

Visit her website (subscribe to read stories first! Become a Beta Reader!)

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SciFi Romance Spotlight: MIND: The Beginning by Jenn Nixon @Jennnixon

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SciFi Romance

MIND The Beginning Jenn Nixon

The MIND Series Book 1

After Dina Ranger loses telepathic contact with her twin brother, Duncan, she breaks into his apartment and stumbles onto a special government unit responsible for monitoring the psychic population. She’s offered a job where she can use her psionic gifts to help people.
Stranded on earth over a hundred years ago, Liam of Shria is searching for a metal needed to repair his ship when he finds Dina inside an alien escape pod and narrowly saves her after she trips the alarm.
As the mystery and their relationship deepens, Liam helps Dina learn the truth behind her abilities while uncovering a plot to rebuild an ancient weapon, exposing dangerous secrets about the alien presence on earth that may change the future forever.

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“I had a feeling I’d see you again,” the voice called.

Dina looked around the wooded area, feeling confused for a moment. It seemed familiar. Across the marsh, Liam was leaning against a tree, casually dressed, hair slightly less shaggy than it had been last time, hands shoved in his skinny jeans. A light mist lingered over the grass, a taste of salt in the air. How did she get here?


“Didn’t think it would be this soon,” he replied with a shrug.

The Gut surrounded her. She didn’t remember coming here, yet she was in the Bay Hook. Solid ground beneath her feet and the stench she breathed in, all real. “Why, uh . . . did you come back?”

“The real question is why did you call me here?”

“What are you talking about? You were already here, and I didn’t call. I don’t even have your number.”

“Want it?” he asked, smirking, then shook his head. “No, wait . . . oh. Uninhibited speech, foggy backdrop, extra flirty. I get it.”

“Get what?”

“We’re dreaming. You’re asleep right?”

“No,” she spat, spreading her arms, twisting in place. She pulled a cattail-punk out of the ground and shook it at him. “We’re in the Hook, hello, don’t you see the trees? Can’t you smell the marsh?”

“You must have been thinking about me, which is normal, frankly, given the circumstances. But how the hell are you keeping me here?”

“I’m not doing anything.”

“Dina, did both your parents have psionic abilities?”

“Only my father, why?”

“Curious,” he said, moving toward her, gray eyes sweeping up and down. “What about his parents, either of them?”

“I don’t know. What does it matter?”

“People don’t normally share dreams. You’re strong—”

“Why does everyone keep saying that?” Dina threw her hands up in the air and walked away. “Who cares if I am or not? There’s some dude out there burning up people, and I don’t have time to tramp around the swamp with E.T.”

“What did you say?”

“Nothing. Doesn’t matter. I’m outta here.”

“Wait, Dina,” he said, catching up and surpassing her. He grabbed both her arms to stop her. “You really are dreaming.”

Everything around her was too real to be a dream. She felt the pressure of his fingers, even the sinking feeling of her feet on the soft ground. “So this isn’t the Gut, it’s a dream? Right, and you’re sharing it with me, sure.”

“You’re amazing!” He laughed boyishly. “Even after all you’ve seen, you’re still questioning everything.”

“Then prove it to me. Call me, here’s my number,” she said, mentally sending the digits to his head.

Liam smiled at her. A sweet, sincere smile that made her smile back before shrugging.


Her eyes popped open. The ceiling of her bedroom stared back. “Oh, what the hell?”

Dina sat up, brow furrowed. She reached toward the nightstand for her phone. Was it going to ring? It had felt as if she had been there, standing in the grass with Liam. She shut her eyes, trying to bring the images back, but they were already fading.

Had she just shared a dream with Liam?

Youtube Book Trailer:




About the Author:

jenn nixon

Jenn’s love of writing started the year she received her first diary and Nancy Drew novel. Throughout her teenage years, she kept a diary of her personal thoughts and feelings but graduated from Nancy Drew to other mystery suspense novels.

She often adds a thriller and suspense element to anything she writes be it Romance, Science Fiction, or Fantasy. When not writing, she spends her time reading, observing pop culture, playing with her two dogs, and working on various charitable projects in her home state of New Jersey.

Jenn Nixon is a member of Liberty States Fiction Writers.

Jenn is a Wholockian as well. :-)

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The Series:

mind the vision promo

MIND Vision1

Mind: The Vision releases 7/18/17!

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Science Fiction Spotlight: The Days After – Big River by J. Richardson

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Dystopian, Science Fiction

the days after big river

Clay started his day as normal, on the wide river in the fascinating city of New Orleans. By the time the owner of the paddle wheeler, Annie Belle, had returned the morning tour passengers to shore, it was apparent that something was very wrong. What disaster could have caused such chaos on the shore? His instinct sends him right back to the safety of the river he loves.

The captain’s long time friend and assistant, Louis, leaves on a desperate mission to gather his wife and son, with a promise to catch the big paddle wheeler up river. Clay’s newest crew member, the tour hostess, Angel and her small daughter have no option but to remain onboard.

In the days after, as the new and changed world is revealed, the four new friends and the two children will travel a perilous journey. Up two mighty rivers and nearly a thousand miles, they will work together to reach the haven of Clay’s brother’s farm. Will the river defeat them or be their savior?

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Muddy colored sheets of water spilled over, frothed into a creamy foam where the blades dipped into the churning current. The paddle wheel pushed the two-level boat along the big river. William Clay Allen, the owner and operator, guided the vessel with both hands on the polished wooden ship’s wheel, he smoothly navigated the waterway that he was so familiar with. Clay did not wear the suit of a captain; he wore his denim jeans, a long sleeve navy blue T-shirt and canvas boat shoes. His dark blue cap snugged down on a head of thick black hair and was lettered Annie Belle, the cap shaded a face that was pleasantly weathered and tanned. Dark brown eyes were hidden behind aviator style sunglasses and watched cautiously as the shoreline approached.

Graceful blue letters repeated the name Annie Belle on the sides of the long boat that was freshly painted white. Below the name, was New Orleans, La. This craft was not the huge commercial type that carried hundreds of visitors along the river for dining and touring, sometimes even over night excursions. This well-maintained riverboat never carried more than twenty five tourists, either on the three hour early trip that included a light brunch or the afternoon trip that offered sandwiches and snacks. The many windowed cabin area on the first deck was encircled with a walkway and rails. If you took the narrow stairs to the second level, you walked out onto a flat deck with a strong safety rail. The small wheel house, the control cabin, sat next to the stairway at the bow of the boat. A framework stretched from the boat’s bridge to the aft and a heavy canvas top could be rolled out to cover it. Mounted at the opposite end of the deck was a viewing scope that allowed observation of activity on and around the river. A long row of wooden benches, facing back to back, with ornate wrought iron backs and legs were bolted down in the center of the deck. Freshly painted black, they were not very comfortable but did give the passengers a place to sit and have a high perch view. The Annie Belle was not a fancy hulking cruise boat; it was Clay’s livelihood, his life and also his home.

For the last hour or so, as the morning tour came to an end and the boat glided back into the busier area along the river, Clay noticed that something was different. The day was bright and clear and the usual waterway traffic passed him by, on the land…what was it? It was very still, the heavy land traffic was not in motion. In the lulls between the noise of barges and tugs and towering freighters, he could hear occasional shouts and car horns that honked from the shore, but he saw no movement other than hazy figures that scurried around. He picked up the hand held walkie-talkie and spoke into it, “Louis, could you come up to the helm? Hey, bud, are you there…would you come forward please?”

The radio crackled and then a voice, “Gotcha’ boss. I’ll be up shortly.”

More and more folks stood upon the decks of the assorted boats that passed in both directions and looked out with curiosity at the shore. He was seeing some vessels that seemed to be stopped silent in the water. Clay maneuvered the paddle wheeler with skill, they would be at the long pier that allowed his passengers to disembark in about twenty minutes.

A short stocky man with cocoa colored skin, stepped into the small space that housed the ship’s wheel and controls and Clay. He wore jeans, a T-shirt and dark blue cap just like his friend and boss. “What’s up, you think? It looks like a power outage or something in the city. Weird thing though, I don’t see any vehicles moving.”

“Yeah-h,” said Clay. He took his sunglasses off and scanned the bright blue skies, “I don’t see any storm clouds. It’s clear as a bell today.” The sunglasses went back on, “Well, we will be at the dock shortly. Go ahead and help Angeline get the passengers off.”

“Okay, we will find out what’s happening when we get there, huh?” Louis smiled and moved towards the cabin area.

Elizabeth Angeline Babin Cook stood behind the bar and wiped vigorously at the polished top. Her auburn hair was piled up in a tousle of curls on her head, a circle of comb teeth secured the curls and made neat rows in her shiny tresses. Thick lashes covered her amber colored eyes as she looked down at the job she was intent on. Her slim figure looked pleasing in the same jeans as her boss and her co-worker and she wore the appropriate canvas boat shoes. No T-shirt however, a soft navy blue blouse was tucked neatly in her jeans. Gold hoops dangled from her ears, a small cross on a chain was at her neck, no wedding ring or any rings on her fingers and a Timex watch circled her wrist. Louis’s wide hand slapped the bar and made her jump.

“Angel, we are close to port. Let’s round ‘em up, girl.” Several of the morning tourists peered out the windows, and a few sat at tables and munched on cookies from a round tray of assorted sweets. A small girl with hair the beautiful color of her mother’s, popped up from a stool behind the bar. A tiny pair of glasses rested on her turned up nose, she removed them and laid them on top of the sketch pad where she had been engrossed in drawing.

“Louis!” she grabbed him around his knees.

He lifted the petite beauty and gave her a hug, “Hey there, Allie girl. How’s my baby today?”

Louis sat her down and announced in a smooth voice with just a touch of a cajun accent, “Okay, folks, we will soon be at the dock. Be sure to gather all of your belongings and prepare to disembark.”

Angel looked down at her daughter, “Put all your supplies in your backpack, honey. Do you need to make one last restroom visit?” The little girl skipped towards the bathroom on the opposite side of the cabin, her loose bright printed top flounced around. She didn’t like clothes that fit her body close; she would tolerate jeans with an elastic waist and she liked the slip-on canvas shoes.

The foghorn blared out as the Annie Belle slowly edged next to the long pier. The murky water lapped against the heavy pilings. The wooden pier would take the tourists all the way into their towering luxury hotel that had a view of the river from every room. The passengers looked around curiously, they noticed that something was not quite right, but they moved up the long pier towards the hotel. Louis and Angeline, now Clay stood and told them thanks for coming and have a nice day. It was just the normal thing, the routine. As the people walked away from the ship, they gazed around, questioning and confused.

Angel had been busy until they docked, she stood by the rail and scanned the shore. Now she noticed the chaos. No cars moved around and it was clear that many had slammed into others, steam and smoke spiraled up in dozens of places and she saw an actual fire or two that blazed. People ran in all directions, shouts and a few panicky screams could be heard rising above the sea of dead autos. She heard no sirens, where was the fire department…the police? Allie dashed out and tugged at her hand. Her daughter was only five but very precocious, “What is it, Mommy? Is there a bad car wreck?”

She pulled the little body up next to her. “Maybe,” she answered with a doubtful voice. She looked at Louis and over to Clay, the question in her eyes, “My god, what….”

Clay only hesitated for a moment, “Louis, I think we need to get back out into the bay, away from the shore.” He turned to move to the helm and Louis immediately turned to follow.

Angel said, “Hey, wait, we need to get home. We need to get off…” her voice trailed away as she looked back at the mass confusion on the shore and wondered, how would they get home to their tiny apartment.

Clay turned and said, “Angel, I don’t think that would be a good idea right now. Let’s get back out on the river and I can get you closer to home, by the waterway.” He hurried on towards the helm and Louis moved to pull up anchor and untie the moorings.

Angel stood in stunned silence until she felt the slight roll of the deck. She snapped to and led Allie into the cabin. What in the world could be happening? This was just crazy. She tried not to let her little girl see how frightened she was. Rather nonchalantly, Allie sat down on the carpeted floor, took off her backpack, pulled out her art pad and placed her glasses on her nose.

Clay eased the long vessel away from the land. He could not be one hundred percent certain, but he was not near as baffled as his pretty new bartender slash hostess about what might have happened. Angeline had just come to work on the boat a couple of weeks earlier. It was early and the season would get busier. He and Louis just could not do everything, especially the small hospitality and courtesy things that folks expected. She seemed to be smart and competent, not to mention nice to look at. He didn’t mind sweet Allie being on board, at all. If her mother didn’t have to pay child care, it made him feel not so guilty about her mother’s small paycheck,

The boat slipped ever so slowly along, he noticed no break or change in the havoc on the land. His mind recounted the many times his brother Daniel…old doomsday Dan, he called him…had lectured and raved about the various scenarios that would change the world or worse, end the world. Dan was absolutely sure that this below sea level, coastal city was not the place to be. He was sure that the ocean levels would rise and take out all the coastal cities in the world. Every apocalyptic event from the financial collapse of America to massive earthquakes filled the brother’s list of possible catastrophic happenings. Even though, Clay and Dan and their parents had always lived on or near the river in Louisiana, the paranoid brother had moved away from the Gulf Coast, about three years earlier.

A believer, a “Prepper”, Dan relocated to a small community in South Dakota that was very near the Missouri River. The Missouri flows right into the Mississippi River and Dan said, “When the S—hits-the-fan, you can navigate all the way to my place. That’s why I chose a place south of the locks and dams on both rivers.” A software developer, he worked from home, which was his several acre farm and built up his supplies and preparations for the doomsday event that he was confident would come. He never gave up and tried consistently to persuade Clay to leave the coast.

The expert hands barely moved the handles that extended from the wooden wheel. Just as Louis walked up beside him, he thought, Well, old Dan, I am afraid one of your nightmares has finally come true. The man didn’t say anything to his boss, just waited for him to speak.

Clay let his breath out in a long exhale and shook his head, “I think that crazy old Dan might have not been so crazy, my friend. Something way out of the norm has happened. When the vehicles go dead, it’s electrical…like the whole electric grid is down. Only certain things would affect the cars, anything computerized. It could have been natural, like a solar flare or it could have been man made, an EMP. It may have been deliberate, intended to do just what it did, knock out the electric grid, cripple the world.”

In amazement, Louis stared into the face of his friend, “You mean everywhere!”

“Maybe not everywhere, on the other hand, possibly not just America but the world. We won’t know for a while, something is very bad wrong. I do know that.” said Clay.

Louis took off his cap and slapped it on his leg. “I trust you, you know that. If this is possible, I have to get Penny and Jacob. I am going to take the dinghy and head back down river.”

Clay said, “It’s going to get more and more dangerous out there, Louis. You take plenty of fuel and get your wife and boy, catch back up with us. I will move as slow as I can and stop if I can, I will be watching for you.” They clasped hands in a tight shake. He reached in his pocket and pulled out a key to a padlock, “Take that .38 and ammo from the gun closet. You be careful and stay safe.”

“Clay, what about Angel and the girl?” said Louis.

“No way that I could put her on the shore, not until we see what the situation really is. She will have to stay on board for now,” he replied.

The friend smiled, “Good boy. You stay safe and I will see you upriver.”

About the Author:

j richardson

J.Richardson was born in what she refers to as her beloved Texas. She has lived there all of her life and raised her family. Her children, grandchildren and one great-grandchild are scattered across the state. These days, she and her husband of 47 years, split their time between home and their summer cabin in Colorado.

Her first e-book was published this year. A life filled with rich experiences and small adventures has been the inspiration for her writing. Much of that experience derived from the partnership with her spouse in building four homes in four different locations, from scratch; from a log house in the woods of east Texas, to a lakehouse and a farmhouse, and finally, the cabin in Colorado. J. says that she is a fascinated observer of people and their endless diversity. She believes the internet is an amazing source of information and her favorite part of writing is the research.

A pen name claims ownership of her fiction writings because they are often close facsimiles of her friends and family. She admits, however, they are just as often, products of her imagination and characters she has known. The author’s favorite reads are mystery and humor, lately her passion and interest is in the fictional and real life details of prepping for disaster. She quotes, “I have strong political and patriotic views, but try to avoid them in my novels because anger is not my forte’. I always look forward to hearing from my readers.”

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