A Free Chapter of Nine Dead Suns

Posted: July 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

Because you’ve been so nice about listening to me ramble about life, here’s some fiction to cleanse your palate.

And, if you haven’t signed up to be a Reader, you get to try a little for free without any obligation to do anything.

So, without further ado, an excerpt from Nine Dead Suns. Enjoy!

Chapter Five: In Which Bramble Has More Money Than He Thought He Did, Several Times

Dinner with Ben’s dad was a fairly random affair. Half the time, Eric Ramble was in a mood for something specific, and the kitchen was a blizzard of activity, resulting in a surprisingly good meal and a tremendous mess that would sit there for days. The other half the time, the kitchen was too much of a mess, and Ben’s dad either microwaved something with the word “pocket” in its name or ordered delivery from somewhere.

Tonight, fortunately (or maybe unfortunately; things were always a bit confusing with the senior Ramble,) it was a recipe night, and Ben’s dad was in the kitchen making something from his youth that he called “meat-za galooch.” From Ben’s vantage point in the living room, it seemed to require a lot of ground beef and a counter’s worth of chopped-up peppers and onions.

“Oh, crap,” came Ben’s dad’s voice from the kitchen.

Ben ignored it. Sometimes he could get away with pretending not to hear his dad and the inevitable follow-up explanation of the expletive never materialized.

“Hey, Ben?” his dad called. Apparently ignoring wasn’t going to work this time.

“Yeah?” Ben asked, sounding as busy as he could in just one word.

“I’m out of pasta sauce. Can you run out and get me some?”

Ben sighed. “Yeah, sure, dad,” he resigned himself.

“And get something good while you’re there,” his dad added.

By “something good,” Ben knew his father meant something bad for him that he shouldn’t eat. Eric was diabetic, but rationalized the occasional ice cream as a numbers game, something to be washed away with an extra bolus of insulin. Ben decided not to hear that last part.

The trip to the close grocery (as opposed to the good grocery, which was much further) only took five minutes, and Ben rather easily found the pasta sauce. Taking pity on his dad, he grabbed a box of sugar-free fudge pops and tossed them into his basket as well.

It was only when he got to the express lane that he realized he had left his wallet at home. He had taken it out with the intention of emptying it out to refill the new wallet, but got distracted by some cat or squirrel or something in the backyard knocking over trash cans. By the time he had picked up and rebagged all the trash, he had completely forgotten what he had been in the middle of and stayed downstairs to do his homework.

All that Ben had in his pocket was the new wallet, which he pulled out more by reflex than anything else. Not wanting to look like a complete idiot in front of the cute check-out girl (what was it about glasses that made girls so inexplicably hot?) he opened the wallet to pretend to be surprised by the lack of money.

Ben was surprised.

Inside the wallet was a small handful of bills. Flipping through them quickly, Ben counted a twenty, a five, and three ones. Even if he had remembered to carry his stuff over from the last wallet, he knew he didn’t have this much on him.

Ben grabbed the five and the ones and handed it to the checkout girl, who smiled at him. Ben failed to notice, which is a shame because she was totally open to him asking her out, which he might have done if he wasn’t so utterly confounded by the money in the wallet.

He remembered the old man–darn, still didn’t know his name–taking all the money out of the wallet before handing it over to him. After buying it, he had just stuffed it into his pocket, and that was where it had remained until now.

“Here you go,” the checkout girl prompted, and Ben grunted an unintentionally disinterested thanks as he took the bag and wandered out to his car. He determined to check his wallet upstairs first thing… but a strangely excited voice in the back of his mind reminded him that the wallet had come from the same place as the cassette tape with the equally-inexplicable Led Zeppelin song.

When he got home, he plopped the grocery bag on the kitchen counter and started up to check his old wallet, but his dad interrupted.

“Hey, forgot to give you money… did you have enough?”

Ben chortled. “Yeah, dad, I actually did.”

“Well, here,” his dad said, holding out a five dollar bill. Ben decided not to argue that he had spent more than that just to get the fudge pops and took the money.

Climbing the stairs, he opened the new wallet to add the five to the twenty… and for the second time, stopped still in shock to find twenty eight dollars–the twenty, another five and five more ones–waiting inside.

“Now this is just messed up, this here,” Ben muttered to himself, as he stumbled into his room, slamming the door behind him. He wasn’t sure whether he was excited or terrified by what was happening to him.

He sat down at the desk and emptied the wallet completely, adding the five dollar bill from his dad. Thirty-three dollars. From his old wallet, he pulled a ten and two ones (total: forty-five dollars) and added it to the pile. Then, ever so carefully, he picked up the new wallet once more and opened it.

It was empty.

Ben sighed in relief. As nice as it would be to have a wallet that spontaneously grew money inside it, the fact is that such a challenge to Ben’s reality would have far overshadowed the free income. He slipped the wallet back into his pocket and once more picked up the equally-suspicious black cassette tape.

“What are you?” he asked it, but it refused to answer.

There was a knock on his bedroom door, and his father opened it and stuck his head in.

“Soup’s on,” he said.

“You know, you’re actually supposed to wait until I say ‘come in’ after you knock,” Ben sighed. “What if I were, say…”

“Don’t say,” his dad grinned. “Point taken. But the meat-za galooch is ready.” With that, he closed the door.

Ben got up and tossed the tape back onto his desk. He was about to open the door and head down, but his curiosity got the better of him and he pulled the wallet out of his pocket and peeked inside one more time.

Twenty eight dollars, a twenty, a five and three ones, looked back up to him.

“Oh, hell,” he said. “This isn’t going away.”

Tomorrow: I dunno. It’s still not August yet.

(Oh, and obviously, Nine Dead Suns is © copyright 2010 by Douglass Barre. Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.)

  1. Kay says:

    Can’t wait for you to finish filling in the hole in your book! This is one of my favorites that you have written… but you still need to tell me about the vampires.

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