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New Release: Dalton Kane and the Greens – J. S. Bailey

Dalton Kane and the Greens - J. S. Bailey

QSFer J.S. Bailey has a new queer sci-fi book out: Dalton Kane and the Greens.

When humankind first settled Molorthia Six a hundred years ago, they thought it was uninhabited. It turns out that the treelike Greens were just holding very still–and that they have teeth.

These days, humans live in the Molorthian desert, far from the bloodthirsty forests. Life seems to be going rather miserably for widowed Sheriff Dalton Kane, so it’s no real surprise when unexplained forest fires send refugee Greens fleeing toward town.

When a violent Green attack leaves several citizens dead, Dalton and his new deputy, an ex-conman named Chumley Fanshaw, make the treacherous journey north to see what they can do to stop the fires that keep sending the Greens in their direction. They soon find themselves fighting not only for their lives, but for the lives of every human on Molorthia Six.

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Excerpt

Dalton Kane hated meetings.

He suspected that whoever invented them had done it to see if anyone would notice a punchline. But, as sheriff, he was required to participate in said meetings as requested, and he wasn’t in a position to argue about it no matter how much they made him want to stab his eyes out with a paperclip.

Luckily for him, today’s meeting was with Carolyn Kaur, Richport’s mayor, and she promised it would be brief.

So.

He looked at his reflection in the small hand mirror he kept in his desk drawer, decided he looked as much of a bastard as ever, and dragged a greasy comb through his sunbleached hair to make it look like he’d at least tried. Then he stood, squared his shoulders, and strode out of his office with a swagger of forced masculinity to greet his superior.

He didn’t spot Carolyn at first. His gaze roved briefly over the desks and filing cabinets that sat in neat rows in the main part of the police station. Cadu Mão de Ferro, the emergency operator, sat at his desk swirling a pen around on a piece of paper waiting for calls to come in, and Debbie Harper…

Dalton’s eyes went wide.

Debbie Harper had brought a salad.

Again.

He ground to a halt as the reason for Carolyn’s visit fled his mind. Time itself slowed to a near-standstill, and his vision darkened around the edges until Debbie and her lunch were all he could see.

The mousy-haired office assistant sat hunched over her desk, forking a glob of dressing-soaked plant matter into her mouth. Dalton could hear the languid crunch as she bit into it, watched as she stabbed into her bowl and brought another forkful of the substance toward her mouth.

His heart fluttered in his chest like a moth caught in a window screen, not that they had any moths here on Molorthia Six.

Spots danced mockingly through the air before him as his consciousness started to go.

Debbie took another bite.

A faint ringing began to sound in Dalton’s ears, and he thought, Sonofabitch.

#

Dalton came to feeling something cold and damp pressing against the side of his head.

His eyes snapped open. Everything towered over him as if he’d shrunk, and it took him a few seconds to realize this was because he lay sprawled across the wooden plank floor like a drunk in the gutter. The battered gray filing cabinet to his left had toppled over, belching papers across the planks, and Dalton’s head and shoulder smarted in time with his heartbeat.

Ah, he thought.

“Dalton, are you okay?” Carolyn Kaur asked in a low tone. The brown-skinned woman held a self-activating icepack in one hand, and a first-aid kit lay open on the floor next to her. Her dusty, black business suit had a smudge of fresh blood on one sleeve.

He squinted past her and saw Debbie standing by her desk with her arms crossed in defiance while Cadu Mão de Ferro gave her a scolding.

The salad was nowhere in sight.

“But I have to start eating better!” Debbie whined to Cadu. “My doctor said!”

“You know you can’t bring that kind of stuff in here,” Cadu said, perhaps too gently. “Not after what happened to the sheriff’s family.”

“I taste blood,” Dalton said, looking back to Carolyn, who’d pressed the icepack against his head again.

“You bit your lip when you fell. I saw the whole thing happen. Your legs turned into jelly, and bam.”

Dalton narrowed his eyes again. The door to the lobby had been propped open, and an industrial-sized fan parked a meter or so away from the doorway riffled papers on the scattered desks.

Vaguely, he remembered that Carolyn had come here to talk to him about something. But then there had been the salad.

He pulled himself to his feet, his face setting itself into a scowl so deep, it might become permanent. He stormed from the office area and out through the lobby without even going back for his Stetson.

Outside in the dusty street where the only colors were brown, tan, gray, and a little bit of red on some shop signs, Dalton began to feel more like himself again, whatever that meant. The gleaming sun beat down upon him so heavily that he could already feel his ears thinking about blistering. His brown leather trench coat would keep the sun off most of the rest of him, at least.

He couldn’t bring himself to go get his hat. Not after what everyone had seen him do.

“Dalton, wait.”

He turned his head enough to see Carolyn hurrying out the entrance to the police station in her high heels.

His expression felt like stone. “What do you want, Carolyn?”

She frowned at him, her eyes dark wells of concern. “A few people have come to me worried about the smoke on the horizon. I thought you should send someone to check it out.”

She hadn’t been kidding when she’d said the meeting would be brief. “Smoke?” Dalton craned his neck, unable to see anything but buildings and sand. “In which direction?”

“To the north.” She paused. “And the northeast. Mostly the north, though. I figured you’d noticed it already.”

He gave her a dull glare. He may have spotted some smoke that morning on his way in, but hadn’t thought much of it—sometimes things just burned. “Maybe the folks up in Paris are celebrating Bonfire Night already.”

Carolyn opened her mouth as if to say more but then shook her head. “Clearly, this isn’t the right time to be talking to you. Is this about that damned salad?”

A tendril of dread scuttled down Dalton’s spine the moment she spoke that word. Instead of answering, he set his jaw and turned on his heel, then stomped away from her.

Maybe she’d understand a little better if she’d been there. They all might understand a little better. But only Dalton had been there, and Summer Kane, too, but he sure as hell wasn’t going to go talking to Summer about it. He’d rather lay down naked in a bed of fire ants in the noonday Molorthian sun. Not that they had any fire ants.

As Dalton’s boots sent up puffs of dust with every angry footfall, he patted the loaded water pistol in its holster on his hip and felt one microscopic shred of relief.


Author Bio

J. S. Bailey is the author of eight novels and numerous short stories. She works at an independent bookstore in Cincinnati and lives nearby with her husband and daughter. She enjoys walking in the woods and daydreaming about her next book. Stay up to date on Bailey news by visiting her website and following her on social media.

Author Websitehttps://www.jsbaileywrites.com
Author Facebookhttps://facebook.com/jsbaileywrites
Author Twitterhttps://twitter.com/jsbailey_author
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