QSFer Ethan Stone has a new sci fi book out:
A meteor strike is about to change Angel Mocavo’s life forever.
Angel is lost and has been since the death of his husband, Dante. A camping trip is supposed to clear his mind but instead he’s thrust into a battle between forces he never knew existed.
Griff, a man unlike any Angel has met, makes him see and feel things he thought he never would again. When Griff’s life is in jeopardy Angel will have to decide if he’s going to risk his own safety or remain in the life he’s always known.
This is the first book in the five story collection Storming Love Series: Meteor Strikes
God, the ground was hard. Even with an air mattress I could feel the rocks and contours beneath me. I tossed and turned, squirming in an attempt to find a comfortable spot. How did Dante do this? Why had he enjoyed this so much? I didn’t understand at all. And Dante couldn’t explain it to me.
He’d invited me how many times? And I’d turned him down every single time with some stupid excuse or another. Damn, what I’d give to go back and give him a different answer. All those times I’d put work ahead of the man I loved. What a colossal mistake.
Dante was gone.
Work was gone.
I had nothing.
Everything had changed after his death. I couldn’t focus on anything. Twenty years on the job didn’t mean shit when I screwed up a huge case. Well, more than one. A major drug dealer got away because I’d lost evidence. Then I’d failed to act on a tip and a killer got away. But all that was peanuts to my mistakes that led to a child molester being found innocent. My testimony had been so weird and unintelligible, the creep’s lawyers had used that to their advantage.
I didn’t blame the department for letting me go. I would’ve done the same. I was a mess. I’d been one since the day Dante died. I’d been a cop my entire adult life but I’d known Dante since childhood, and had been with him since high school. It seemed I didn’t know how to do one without the other. Dante had been my rock, my stabilizer and without him…well, I couldn’t really do much of anything. Without him I didn’t feel like a cop. I’d even gotten rid of every gun I owned after I was fired.
Dante had left instructions about what to do with his ashes, but for two years they’d sat on my mantle. For a long time I blamed the job but six months after I’d been let go, his remains stayed where they were.
And that was why I found myself camping, uncomfortably, on Mt. Hood. To finally fulfill a promise I’d made my husband before he died. To spread his ashes on the mountain he loved so much. Maybe afterward I could finally sleep, finally get my life back together.
I’d just drifted off when a loud, ear-piercing whistle filled the air. I scrambled out of my sleeping bag and stared at the sky in awe. It was awash with colors. Hues of reds and greens and blues. The most prominent was a reddish purple streak outlined in yellow painted across the sky. There was something at the tip of the line but I couldn’t quite make it out, other than that it was oval, with a pointed tip at the front.
The falling star or meteor or comet or whatever the hell it was, seemed to be headed my way, and flew right over my head. I followed it with my eyes as best I could. It actually appeared to be two separate comets, side-by-side. It must have split in two. One veered far left out of my line of sight while the other descended quicker and quicker until it disappeared, not incredibly far away. Seconds later a huge kaboom sounded and the ground shook so violently, I fell. If I didn’t know better I’d have said it was an earthquake. I’d just made it to my feet when another rumble hit. It wasn’t as forceful or as loud as the first and I assumed it was the comet that had split off. I couldn’t tell how far away that had one landed but the first had to have been no farther than a mile or so.
I pulled on my clothes and trudged off in the direction the meteor had landed. I was undeniably curious; who wouldn’t be? Well, maybe some people would’ve been scared or nervous. I was those things as well, but the curiosity was stronger. When Dante and I had been young we’d played explorer all the time. The five acres of woods behind our houses had been perfect for our vivid imaginations. We’d pretended to be space explorers on a new planet, or spies hiding from bad guys, or Indiana Jones-type action heroes searching for relics.
When had I begun suppressing my imagination to focus on things in the real world? Somewhere in my teenage years, I guessed. That was when I’d buckled down and focused on school while Dante began rock climbing and spelunking. He kept his grades up but they weren’t his main drive. He’d invited me often but I’d insisted on studying. All the time. Would it actually have been that hard to take time off and spend time with my husband, here and there?
It took about an hour to traverse the distance between my camp and the landing site of the meteor. It was easy to spot because the ground had been scorched, trees had been knocked down, and some brush and grass were on fire. Not high flames, but low, simmering burns that would extinguish easily.
I approached the area carefully with my flashlight out. It was almost dawn, the sun beginning to peek out from behind the mountains, but there wasn’t enough natural light to see things easily. Rocks glowing red with heat were scattered everywhere. I had to avoid them as I got nearer to the strip of ground where the comet had burned through as it landed. The belt of scorched earth was at least the length of a football field and got deeper and deeper until the comet had stopped twenty feet down.
For a moment I considered climbing down into the hole, but quickly thought better of it. First of all, I didn’t have any equipment, and the dirt wall was rather sheer. Secondly, the meteor itself was a bright, shimmery shade of orange and I assumed it was from the heat of entering the Earth’s atmosphere. Besides, what would I do with it anyway? It was huge. I couldn’t tell how deep the chasm was because it was embedded in the dirt, but it appeared around ten feet long.
There were smaller rocks scattered everywhere that appeared to have broken off from the meteorite. The few trees and bushes that had been in the clearing were now tossed everywhere. The air was thick with dirt, so much so I could taste it.
Stepping back from the edge of the hole, I kicked around one of the small rocks. It still glowed but a lesser shade of crimson, more like burnt orange. I kneeled down and hovered my hand over it. Not feeling any heat, I touched it with my finger for a second, pulling it away quickly, expecting it to be hot, or at least lukewarm. But it wasn’t. Instead, it was cool to the touch, like it had just come out of the refrigerator. I picked it up and tossed it a few times to make sure I wasn’t wrong about the temperature. Odd that it wasn’t fiery hot.
A booming ka-chunk came from the comet and I suppose I should’ve been frightened but I was more interested than worried. Maybe it was Dante’s spirit pushing me to expand my boundaries, but I had to see what was going on. Besides, I figured, what were the possibilities? More likely it was cracking open from the pressure of the landing.
I peered over the edge and watched as a crack formed down the middle of the comet. The small line became a large fissure before busting wide open.
“Holy shit,” I murmured.
A shrill whistle filled the air. So loud it hurt. I covered my ears but remained where I was. I shined my flashlight into the opening of the comet but still couldn’t see anything. What did I think was going to be inside? Truthfully, I had no idea. It wasn’t as if I’d ever experienced anything like this before or had even heard stories from anyone who had. But damn, I was intrigued.
There was a rustle of noise in the meteorite then something burst out and launched into the air.
“Fuck me!” I fell on my ass and scrambled backward. I didn’t see anything and for a moment thought maybe I’d had a hallucination. Then I glanced upward and there, silhouetted against the rising sun, was a man…with wings. I blinked repeatedly and rubbed my eyes before staring up again. He was still there, wings flapping and hovering in place.
I stared at him, my mind unable to face the reality of what I was actually seeing.
There wasn’t another option but the reality didn’t seem possible either. He was a man with fucking wings for Christ’s sake. I couldn’t make out every detail of the man or alien or whatever the hell he was. But there was enough natural light I could tell he was naked–that’s how I knew he was male–with long, disheveled light brown hair.
When my brain finally allowed me to do something besides sit and stare, I stood and stepped back. “Umm…hello?”
The winged man opened his mouth but instead of words, he screeched and chirped quickly like a parakeet on speed. When he stopped he quirked his head and regarded me like I should’ve comprehended the noises.
I raised my palms. “I’m sorry. I don’t understand.”
He flew upward then swooped down, landing gracefully several feet away from me, barely stirring any dust at all. His black-feathered wings flapped slowly like a dog wagging its tail. He was tall and towered over me, at least six foot five. His body was thin, almost frail looking, no muscle tone at all. His eyes were a bright shade of purple, more like magenta. Definitely not an eye color I’d ever seen before.
There were what appeared to be tattoos up and down his left side. On his chest, arms, and legs. They couldn’t actually be tattoos, however, because the markings moved. Lines on his legs formed odd symbols I’d never seen before. Another snaked around his left pec and thickened, accentuating a medium-sized purple stone embedded in his skin.
The stone glowed brighter as the man squeaked and chirped again but I cut him off with a wave of my hands. “I can’t understand you.”
He stepped closer and held out a hand, waiting for me to take it. Once more I should’ve been petrified, but I wasn’t. There was something about him that told me he wasn’t a danger to me…and he needed my help. I inched forward and took his hand. A bolt of energy shot through me and for a moment I couldn’t move. It wasn’t painful at all, more like getting a shot of adrenaline.
A few seconds later he released my hand and his arms dropped to his side. Closing his eyes, he huffed several short breaths then exhaled loudly. When his lids lifted, his eyes were unfocused but he stared in my direction. He opened his mouth and I expected to hear the same odd chirping but instead he spoke in an unsteady voice.
“Where. Am. Me?”
I shook my head. “No. Planet Earth.”
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Ethan Stone lives in the soggy state of Oregon, and, yes, he does have webbed feet. He used to have a day job where he wore a sexy uniform, now he can wear whatever he wants to work as he attempts to see if this writing thing can support his Mt. Dew addiction.