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Science fiction novel, Automatons Book I


The stray put its head on the sill to look in, easily big enough to do so. Skin shifted loosely over that lumpy bone. Then it heaved both massive forepaws up with a sort of grunt, sand pattering down to the quiet sun warmed carpet.
There was no other sound. Gareth's lungs laboured but there was no air for him, only the decay streaming into the room from those cavernous nostrils. The boy twisted on his bunk in a stifled convulsion of terror ...

Perhaps the world ended, and we brought it on ourselves. But only Joyce noticed the whimper. And she might just be tits-out crazy.

Along with smarmy Sam, life's impossible tourist, a trucker's death draws Joyce down the last highway into the desert's beating heart. And at the Judgment Day Diner they will be caught up in a maelstrom of adultery, lies and hidden violence.

Intended for adult readers, science fiction/humour novel Automatons is a stripping bare of the ways people stumble blindly down the same old paths, and how we find it so much easier to be humane to our technology rather than each other.

The story is continued in Book Two: Something for Everything.

Or enjoy a free sneak preview from Chapter 2: Insanely Huge Cursive

Samuel's legs hurt. His shirt was sticking to his back. He had never felt so God damned alive and life was glorious.

   In celebration he sucked back another scorching, enthusiastic lungful. 'Hello the desert!'

   'YAAAH!' Came the unexpected response. Samuel glanced up in time to see a woman hurl herself off the top of a sand dune.

   Still screaming, silhouetted between burning sky and sand she skidded perhaps ten meters triumphantly upright and in that instant was a Valkyrie, invincible, arms braced wide in classic surfer stance.

   Then one foot lagged and she went over all at once, tumbling and rolling like a bowled octopus.

   Samuel bolted forward, the pack thudding his spine, mouth dry (and wasn't that funny in the desert)—certain that the insane idiot had just killed herself. Wouldn't that be typical: the first face to talk to in weeks and she promptly goes and carks it.

   But the woman lurched panting to her feet before he could reach her and punched a fist at the sky. 'Yeah! A road! How do you like that; a bloody road!'

   Samuel took a reality check. Then another, to be on the safe side. Way back in the recesses he could still remember the grinding machine of the fashion industry with its endless parade of catwalk kitties; however, he had somehow never translated the grotesquery of such female proportion into real life. This goddess in the middle of nowhere soared awe-inspiringly into the stark ether, even sans heels. Graceful only in certain poses which she seemed to strike without thinking: a hand on her hip, one long thigh dropped.

   Lacking the great leveller of cosmetics, despite being stretched mid-grin the woman's over-lipped mouth still pouted, an idiot bow that teetered beyond the bounds of good taste.

   Her skull bulged almost cephalatically to accommodate the huge eyes. Those eyes! They were what bothered him the most: they seemed to gape blindly through him, sun blasted and utterly strange. Hair that should have been a silky waterfall was instead dark, crudely hacked off fuzz. She looked like a mutilated doll.

   Samuel glanced about bemusedly, half expecting a pack of paparazzi to come mincing down the dune in pursuit to hunting cries of "darling!" and "fabulous!" but the woman was all alone.

   A good conversation starter eluded him. 'Um ...'

   'Hi!' The stranger paused her victory dance long enough to turn that bright dizzy smile on him, so dizzy that it made him queasy. One front tooth was rotated slightly, a flaw that steadied him. 'Fancy seeing you here.' She might have been handing around canapes at a cocktail function, one ankle tucked coquettishly behind the other. 'Got anything to drink?'

   'Um, sure.'

   As he un-slung his canteen the tall woman's hands opened and closed compulsively by her sides: not that he found eagerness unattractive in a lady, mind. She was sunburned and peeling, with grim highlights such as her nose glowing as oxide red as the sand.

   That was what was so wrong here! Samuel almost dropped the canteen handing it to her. There was nothing on this woman but her clothes! She might have been magically plucked from street or studio and plonked down here on the sand. He could not believe it. 'You didn't come all the way out here like that?'

   'Uh huh.' The lady was chugging like a uni student already, shuddering and gasping as her body rejected this shocking new input. Still she forced the water down greedily, as one used to such insurrection from the ranks.

   'But ... but this is the desert! You can't just stroll into the freakin' desert with no food, no water—look at you! Not even a bloody chap-stick ...'

   Samuel was saved further outrage as a rush of sunspots caught up with her. Oooh yeah. She had definitely drunk that way too fast.

   Every cell whispered its prayer: water, water. Dazed and temporarily blinded she swallowed hard and concentrated on not fainting as the nausea-tsunami ripped through.

   'Wasn't my idea,' she croaked. The words had to be eased past a pre-vommie lump. She shook on her feet like a boneless rag. 'Sent me. Said "sand". Jerk never says "holiday".'



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