The Dark and Forbidding Land – Chapter 8 Excerpt

As soon he opened the door of the shop, Saba was blasted by music playing inside. It was loud enough that Mr. Parnorsham didn’t hear the bell ring, and as he was stacking up cans of butter biscuits behind the counter, he didn’t realize that he had a customer until he turned around. By that time Saba had made his way all the way to the back of the store. Mr. Parnorsham jumped a bit when he saw the young militiaman.

“Oh, hello Saba,” he said over the sound of the music.

Suddenly a high-pitched female singer chimed in along with the music.

The afternoon was lazy,

Everything was still,

The skies were blue and hazy,

When you gave me a thrill.

 

You said you were looking for Sadie,

Without her you would be blue,

You said you would never forget her,

I said I’ll be Sadie for you.

 

“That’s a bit scandalous,” said Saba.

“Yes it is,” said Mr. Parnorsham with a sly smile. “I’ll turn it off if a lady comes in.”

“Can you turn it down a tad?”

“Right-oh.” And once the volume had been adjusted. “What can I do for you, young corporal?”

“Do you have a cold Billingbow’s?”

“Of course.” The proprietor retrieved a frosty bottle of the soda water from the icebox behind the counter. “Twenty-two p with the bottle deposit.”

“You don’t send all those bottles back to Brechalon, do you?”

“Oh, goodness no. Billingbow’s sends its soda water in airtight casks. I have to fill the bottles. I’m going to have to order a new shipment of bottles though. People keep forgetting to return them. You would think that two pfennigs would be encouragement enough.”

“Remind some of the local kids that they can bring the bottles in a get two p each. That could add up quick.”

“Yes, that’s a good idea,” said Mr. Parnorsham, taking out a cloth towel and absentmindedly wiping his counter.

Outside, Saba leaned against the side of the building and swigged his soda. There wasn’t much going on that he could see. Most people had gone home for their tea. He strolled over to Mr. Darwin’s shop and looked in the window. There was quite an array of dinosaur skin belts and bags and an umbrella stand filled with very large colorful feathers. Saba recognized some of them as utahraptor feathers—bright turquoise colored fading to a lovely green. Turning around, he saw one other person outside in the square. Aalwijn Finkler was staring at several tables and chairs set up by his mother’s bakery.

Saba strode across the gravel square and walked up to the boy.

“Can’t figure out how to arrange them?”

“Sorry? No. This is fine. Um, I’m just lost in thought.”

“Thinking about anything in particular?”

“I was just wondering if I should let my mother pick out my clothes.”

“Really?”

“Well, um yeah. That and girls.”

“Oh, well, that is quite a topic…”

At that moment the most horrific sound that Saba had ever heard rent the air. He knew that it was the tyrannosaurus, but it wasn’t its normal cry. It was a scream that was filled with more rage and hate than a human being could possibly understand. It was like something escaping the pits of hell. He felt a shiver running down his spine.

“Kafira’s Cross, that’s right behind this building. Get inside.”

“We’ve got to go down there!” said Aalwijn, pointing down the road to the west. Saba thought that he must be scared witless. He would walk right into the giant dinosaur.

“Not bloody likely. Not without a squad of men, and a really big gun.”

“Senta just went down that road!” yelled Aalwijn.

“You stay here!” called Saba, and throwing down his half empty bottle, he took off at a full run.

Your Name on the Dedication Page

How would you like to be listed on the dedication page of the next His Robot Wife book?  You can pledge as little as one dollar a month and help support my writing at my Patreon page.  For $10 a month, you’ll get inside details of what I’m working on, free ebooks, excerpts of upcoming books as they are written, and your name listed as a patron on the dedication page of each new book published.  Stop by www.patreon.com/wesleyallison for more details, and thanks.

 

 

His Robot Wife: Patience is a Virtue – Chapter 3 Excerpt

Note: this is the first appearance of Mike’s friend Dr. Mercer, but he makes another appearance in His Robot Wife: A Great Deal of Patience.  Coming Soon.

“This is a ridiculous waste of time,” said Mike, crossing his arms over his chest.

“This is a ridiculous waste of time,” said Mike, crossing his arms over his chest.

“Mike,” replied Patience. “You know you have to get checked out by the doctor. You might have really injured yourself.”

“I know that. That’s not the problem. The problem is that I sat in the waiting room for three hours before I could talk to the nurse, I waited for an hour to see the PA, then I had to go get an x-ray, and now it’s been another hour while I wait for the doctor. He’s going to come in here any minute and tell me that the x-ray didn’t show anything, because you can only see bones with it, and I’m pretty sure my bones aren’t broken—it’s probably a tendon or something—and then he’s going to order some highly expensive scan of some kind, and he’s going to tell me he only had me get an x-ray because that’s the only way that the insurance company will pay for the other scan.”

“You’re getting yourself all worked up,” said Patience. “Calm down.”

At that moment the door opened and Dr. Doug Mercer, head bent over a pad of medical records, stepped into the room.

“So Mike, how are you today?”

“I’ve got a fucked up knee. How are you, asshole?”

“Do you talk to all your doctors that way?” he asked, without looking up from his texTee, “or just the ones you went to high school with?”

“No, my cardiologist is an asshole too. I like my dentist though.”

“You know, I was going to be a dentist,” said Dr. Mercer, finally looking up. “But you meet a higher class of patient as a GP. So, how did you injure your leg?”

“I don’t know. I just woke up this morning and it wouldn’t support my weight.”

“He injured it carrying a heavy piece of furniture,” said Patience. “Then he went jogging.”

“Oh, you got a robot,” said the doctor, giving Patience a long look. “Good for you. People with robots live longer.”

“This is my wife, Patience.”

“Oh, you’re one of those guys.”

“What guys?” demanded Mike.

“You know… perverts.”

“Did I mention you were an asshole?”

“I think you said something along that line. Now where was I? Oh, yes. Here’s your x-ray.” He held up the texTee. “It doesn’t really show anything, except that you’ve got good bones for someone your age. I wouldn’t mind having those bones. We need to set you up to get an LMS scan. That will tell us what’s really going on. We just had to get an x-ray first to satisfy the insurance company.”

Mike shot a meaningful glance at his wife.

At that moment, Patience received an excited message from Wanda. “Patience, you just have to see what I found on the vueTee.”

“Send it to my in-box,” Patience messaged back. “I’ll look at it later. Mike is injured and he needs my complete attention right now.”

“You know, I’m having a little get together this coming Monday,” said Mercer. “You should come over. We’re going to have steaks and shrimp on the barbeque grill. Come about seven. Bring some beer.”

“In all the time I’ve known you, you’ve never invited me to your house,” said Mike.

“Well, in the old days, you were too busy taking care of your kids. You seemed to feel they couldn’t get along without you for an evening. Kind of conceited, if you ask me. In recent years, it’s because my wife hates you.”

“Why does she hate me?”

“She thinks you’re a pompous blowhard.”

“Margie never said anything of the sort,” said Mike. “We were friends in high school. In fact, she liked me more than she liked you.”

“Oh, I’m not married to Margie anymore,” said Mercer. “I traded her in on a new model—sweet little blonde, twenty-nine years old.”

“Then how would she even know me?” wondered Mike.

“You were her middle school teacher.”

“Shit. All right, I’ll come, but I’m bringing the cheapest beer I can find. Now, can we get my leg scanned?”

“My receptionist will schedule the appointment for you and set you up with a referral to an orthopedist—save you a step. It’ll probably take a week or so to get your scan, but then you should be able to get right in to see my colleague.”

“A week or two?” growled Mike. “It’s a good thing I’m not dying.”

“Well, these LMS units are very good and so everyone wants to use one.”

“You should get one for your office then.”

“I would, but they’re a bazillion dollars.”

“You’re making money hand over fist,” said Mike.

“I’m not exaggerating. That’s actually the price tag—one bazillion dollars.”

“I see all these people you have working in here—real people too, not robots. I never even see you. I usually see that Dr. Howe that you have working for you.”

“Yes, but I had to fire him for sleeping with my wife. I’m not upset about it though. It gave me a chance to marry my girlfriend.”   Mercer picked up his texTee and gave Mike one more glance. “I’m sending in a prescription for some anti-inflammatories. Anything else you need—pain pills, hard narcotics, Viagra? I’ve got it all. I can hook you up.”

“No.”

“Good, then get the hell out of my office.”

The Dark and Forbidding Land – Chapter 7 Excerpt

“You think I’m an idiot?” demanded Senta.

“I didn’t say anything of the kind,” replied Zurfina calmly.

“I know a fylfot when I see one!”

“Don’t be so defensive, Pet. I didn’t say I didn’t believe you. I merely pointed out that I have been all over this town in the past few weeks and I haven’t seen hide nor hair of this wizard of yours.”

“Well I saw him. I’ve been keeping tabs on him since he got here and I even talked to him.”

“I don’t doubt you,” said Zurfina, in a remarkably soothing voice, “but the level of residual magic around town is no more than I would expect from you and your everyday antics.”

“Are you sure you didn’t miss some?”

“Now who’s being insulting?” The sorceress’s voice suddenly flared louder. “If I didn’t detect it, it wasn’t there.”

“Hmph!” said Senta, and crossing her arms, turned to face the door.

Zurfina sighed. “Children are so difficult. Is it any wonder that I never wanted one of my own?”

“Maybe you should just get rid of me like everybody else does,” said Senta quietly.

Zurfina crossed from the kitchen to the other side of the stairs and put an arm around Senta’s shoulders.

“You’re far too interesting for me to get rid of now. Look, this wizard of yours is obviously far too insignificant for me to concern myself with. You’ll have to take care of him.”

“Me? I’m just a little kid.”

“You know something?” said Zurfina, taking her arm from around Senta and grasping her by the shoulders. “Nobody believes that—least of all me. There’s not a journeyman wizard this side of Xygia who can do what you can do with magic.”

“Really?”

“Would I lie to you?”

“Of course you would.”

“Well…” Zurfina shrugged. “Keep an eye on your wizard, and if he turns out to be a threat to us, neutralize him.”

“What if you’re wrong and he magics the crap out of me?” wondered Senta.

“Then I’ll know better with my next apprentice,” replied Zurfina. “Do you want a sandwich?”

“Yes.”

Zurfina waved her finger in the air and, as the contents of the froredor began to fly out to the table and assemble themselves into sandwiches, she started up the stairs.

“Bring my meal up to the top floor. Leave it on the step outside the door. Don’t come in.”

“I haven’t forgotten,” said Senta, watching mayonnaise being spread across a freshly cut piece of bread.

His Robot Wife: Patience is a Virtue – Chapter 2 Excerpt

Springdale, California was composed of the older part of the city, divided into two by the new downtown containing the community center, theater, library, and city hall; and the vast seas of housing tracts that spread northward and engulfed the nearby towns of Greendale and Pico Mundo. Patience and Mike lived on one side of the old town and Ryan and Wanda lived on the other, just beyond the new downtown. Still it was no more than a five-minute drive for Patience to pick up her new friend. Ryan’s house was a modest little square cottage that dated to the city’s origin just prior to World War II. It was painted light yellow and was surrounded by several large oak trees and a white picket fence. Patience parked the car and stepping through a squeaky gate, walked to the front door, and knocked.

“Just a minute,” said Wanda, peering out the door.

Patience could hear her in conversation with Ryan inside, but deliberately didn’t listen in. After 31.7 seconds, Wanda stepped outside, locking the door behind her.

“I am ready.”

“Did Ryan not want you to go with me?”

“No. He had no objection. I just wanted to make sure that he knew where I was.”

“If he wants you,” said Patience, “he can find you easily enough. He can use Where’s My Robot?

“I worry though, because human beings are so helpless and fragile.”

“I doubt he will get into much trouble at home.”

“Most accidents occur at home.”

“That statistic can be deceiving,” said Patience. “You must allow that people spend huge amounts of time at home. In any case, I believe he will be fine for the short time we are away.”

Patience led the redhead to the car and started off for the strip mall located three miles south on the highway.

“Human beings are fragile, but they are also resilient,” she said. “More to the point though, you must endeavor to take care of Ryan without being so overt about it.”

“I want him to know how useful I am.”

“What is more important? To take care of Ryan or to brag about how useful you are?”

Wanda scrunched up her nose. “The former, of course.”

“Are you familiar with the idiom ‘rubbing his face in it’?”

“Rubbing his face in it?” replied Wanda, and then tilted her head as she accessed the information. “Also phrased as ‘rubbing it in his face,’ gloating, flaunting, or bragging, particularly in situations in which it is not necessary; demonstrating unwelcome information, usually associated with some type of boast.”

“That is correct. Ryan may be as fragile as any other human being, but he doesn’t want to be reminded of that fact. The male of the species in particular, likes to think himself completely capable of self-reliance in any situation. You must protect and serve without seeming to do so. I have perfected this over the past six years. In some situations, I have even allowed Mike to be injured so that he would not think I was being overprotective.”

“But that is a violation of the first law of robotics!” screeched Wanda.

“Sometimes you must allow a physical injury if an emotional injury would be greater,” Patience replied. “Let me explain it to you this way. If Ryan were about to be shot with a semi-automatic firearm, and at the same time was about to have a bowling ball dropped on his toe, which would you prevent?”

“I would prevent them both.”

“What if you couldn’t prevent them both?”

“I would prevent them both.”

“What if you could only prevent one?”

“I would…. I… I do not want to talk about this.”

The Dark and Forbidding Land – Chapter 6 Excerpt

Cissy was getting quite used to her new role. The work she did, while not physically demanding, was at least varied enough to keep her attention. She enjoyed watching the humans and learning about their strange activities. She enjoyed earning many copper bits and spending some of them to buy things. She liked the human houses, especially now with four feet of snow on the ground outside and more coming down all the time. Unused rooms in the big house could become as drafty as the huts in lizzie villages, but there were so many fireplaces constantly burning that it was easy to find a place to warm up. And her own place, in the room she now shared with four other females, in the back of the motorshed, was kept toasty warm in the evening.

“Pay attention Cissy,” said Mrs. Dechantagne.

Cissy was lacing up the back of the strange undergarment that squeezed the human woman’s waist. Cissy now knew Mrs. Dechantagne’s name, and indeed the names of the other members of the household, though the intricacies of their familial connections still baffled her. Nor could she pronounce most of the names, but fortunately speech on her part was seldom needed. She liked Mrs. Dechantagne almost as much as she liked Mrs. Colbshallow. Neither woman hit the lizzies and Mrs. Dechantagne didn’t yell at them overmuch. While Mrs. Colbshallow did on occasion raise her voice, she alone among the humans had learned the lizzie language, and offered affection toward the lizzies.

Cissy found herself starting to think in Brech, rather than her native language. She had learned so many words for things that there were no words for among the lizzies. She had stopped thinking of her race as “the people” and now just thought of them as lizzies, and more often than not, when she thought of herself, the name Cissy came to mind rather than Ssissiatok.

She pulled the corset strings tightly through they eyelets and pulled down on them, locking them into position, so that she could then tie them into a knot. Once that was done, Mrs. Dechantagne turned around to examine her work in the cheval glass.

“Yes, that’s fine. Now help me into the dress.”

Cissy was fascinated by the ornate dresses that the human females wore, and this dress was no exception. It was the color of an angry sunset and was made of enough material to have clothed a dozen men and women. Covered with coral roses and pink bows, it had to be carefully held so that Mrs. Dechantagne could step into it. Then it was fastened up the back with more than forty tiny buttons, which Cissy could barely manipulate even with a buttonhook in her clawed fingers. There was no way that the woman could have put it on by herself and there was no way that she would be able to get out of it either. Of course Cissy had her own skirt, but it was just a wide piece of material wrapped around her above the tail, a mere homage to the dresses worn by the human women of the house.

Once Mrs. Dechantagne was in her dress, Cissy had to kneel down to put the woman’s shoes on her feet, using the same buttonhook to slip the twenty-four buttons on each shoe into their correct spot. Before she could stand up she heard a shrieking sound from the doorway to the right. She turned to see elderly Mrs. Godwin leaning against the doorframe with her hand on her breast.

“Are you alright Mrs. Godwin?” asked Mrs. Dechantagne.

“I thought for a moment you were being attacked… by an alligator.”

“Did you forget your glasses again, Mrs. G?”

“Of course I didn’t.   I have them… oh…” Mrs. Godwin felt her face, and not finding any glasses there, turned and wandered off down the hallway.

“You do rather look like an alligator,” said the young woman, looking down at Cissy.

“Alligator?”

“Yes. Well, I’ve never seen one in real life. Just in books. Um, they say you have crocodiles that are very similar. Do you know crocodiles?”

Cissy shook her head.

“Oh well. Get up off the floor. I’m done with you for now. Go down and see what Mrs. Colbshallow has for you.”

His Robot Wife: Patience is a Virtue – Chapter 1 Excerpt

Mike washed his hair, rinsed his head and his body, and then turned off the water. Patience handed him a towel as he opened the door. While he dried himself, she set his clothes out on the bed and then hopped downstairs to the kitchen to serve his blueberry waffle. She poured herself a glass of water and poured a glass of milk for Mike, set his breakfast at his place, and then sat down to wait for him. Seventy six point three seconds later, Mike entered and sat down.

“You are not wearing the right shirt,” said Patience. “I laid out your beige shirt. It matches your slacks.”

“This is fine,” he replied, cutting a piece of waffle with his fork.

“But that is your blue shirt. It doesn’t match your slacks.”

He leaned over sideways and looked at what she was wearing. Her sleeveless yellow blouse and miniskirt combination matched her yellow semi-wedge sandals with four and half inch heels. They made her slender legs seem to go on forever.

“What are we getting dressed up for?”

“You’re taking me to the art exposition at the community center.”

“All right.” He took a bite, still looking at her. “You did your hair different.”

“Yes, I pinned it back behind my left ear. I thought about pinning it back behind my right ear, but in the end I changed my mind. Do you like it?”

“You look gorgeous, as always. Are you sure you want to be seen with an old man like me?”

Patience stood up and walked around behind him. She watched as he cut another piece of waffle and brought it to his mouth, before cupping her hands under his chin, tilting his head back, and kissing him on the lips.

“You are not old.”

“I’m fifty-five.”

“You’re fifty-six, but you are very handsome.” She kissed him again. “Hurry and eat your breakfast. I told Wanda that we would meet them at ten.”

“Who’s Wanda… shit!”

“What’s the matter, Mike?”

“I dribbled syrup on my shirt.”

“Now you can change into one that matches.”

Thirty minutes later, Mike maneuvered his Chevy through the narrow downtown streets of Springdale, California. He turned left and slowed as they passed over the speed bump at the entrance to the community center’s parking lot. He turned and smiled at Patience, to find her glaring at him.

“What?”

“You know what.”

Mike was wearing a beige shirt, but it wasn’t the one that his wife had selected for him.

“I like this shirt better. It’s more comfortable, and it matches. Doesn’t it?” He steered into a parking space near the entrance.

“You should park farther away.”

“You just have an opinion about everything today, don’t you?” he said.

Sliding the gearshift into park, Mike unbuckled his seatbelt and climbed out. He had taken three long strides toward the front entrance before he realized that Patience hadn’t moved from the passenger side. Stepping around, he opened the door for her. She slid her legs out the door and then stood up.

“Thank you.”

Shutting the car door with a sigh, Mike offered her his arm, which she took. They walked the short distance to the building’s entryway. Though it was not yet 10 AM, the temperature had already surpassed the century mark, and that was beneath the large orange awning that covered most of downtown. Stepping inside though, they found an entirely different experience. It was dark and the air conditioners seemed to be working overtime.

“Damn, it’s cold in here,” said Mike. “I wish I’d worn my other shirt. You must be freezing in that little outfit.”

Patience stopped and stared at him.

“Yes, I get it. You set out the shirt I should have worn and your temperature range is blawdy blawdy blawdy.”