When Maya Smock writes her first novel, everything seems to go her way. Her book practically writes itself. She marries her gorgeous agent. Her name is on all of the best seller lists. Billionaire author Jay McCallister takes an interest in her meteoric rise to fame and invites her into his world of alien-believing celebrities. Her life changes forever when he tells her that they were both created inside of a laboratory. These authors are embedding an alien genetic code within the pages of their novels that originated from Nazi Germany because… The time has come. They are here.
But I specialize in nonfiction,” he protested.
“Not today. Listen, it’s easy. The writers line-up and wait their turn. You signal a green light when it’s time for one of them to sit in front of you. And then you switch it to red when you are busy during a pitch session. Repeat for each writer you see. The buzzer is set for three minutes. Each writer summarizes his or her story. You offer honest feedback, well maybe not too honest.” Michelle laughed at her feeble joke. “Anyway, you might even want to represent one of them.”
“Hah, I doubt it. I know jack shit about horror and science fiction. And I am well aware of what a pitch is, thank you. I think I can handle this.” Michelle nodded and smiled. Her deep set eyes disappeared behind her fleshy cheeks. She handed him her revised schedule for the rest of Saturday and Sunday and then waddled away, leaving Claude alone with a small line already forming.
Claude slinked into his chair and practiced the off/on switch of the signal and then the on/off switch of the buzzer. Before committing to the “green” light of welcoming a new writer to sit down, he pulled out his phone. There were four messages from Veronica. She probably called to bitch about him being late. He had the event coordinator to thank for that. He then glanced at the new schedule-classes that taught elements of steampunk, paranormal romance and historical romance. Oh great, he thought, I know nothing about this nor do I want to. At least the Meet-and-Greet cocktail party promised an open bar. He reluctantly flicked on the green light and an old, thin man appeared in the chair across from him.
“Can I help you?” Claude asked.
The man wore a Star Trek t-shirt with a series of ears ending with Spock’s pointy ear on the front side. ‘Highly Logical Evolution’ was underneath the picture. “I’m here to pitch you my novel.”
Claude nodded and turned on the buzzer. “Go.”
“It’s about an astronaut who runs into a tribe of aliens somewhere around Saturn. He falls in love with one of the female aliens and then follows her back to the star that she came from. She then introduces him to her…”
Claude drifted off into daydream land at this point. He glanced at the buzzer. Only one minute had passed. It was going to be a long day. Finally the buzzer went off.
“So what do you think?” the man asked.
“Honestly, I am not sure. You have an active imagination and it’s brimming with potential. Send my agency a copy once you are finished.” Claude dug inside of his breast pocket for a stack of the agency’s business cards and then handed the man one of them. He seemed happy and left.
Claude fine-tuned his brush-off speech for the next four writers, all white men and all over forty years old. Their ideas were way over the top and difficult to follow. He began losing faith in this so-called opportunity. Writer number five blathered on about The Grays attacking the United States for the gold in Fort Knox. He wished he had a bottle of vodka and a vile of cocaine to make the time go by faster. Maybe some marijuana as well. An altered state of mind might make the pitches entertaining. The man with the Gray alien story finished his pitch. Although Claude didn’t like the story, it was the best one he’d heard since pitch fest began. “Yes, I think I see where you are going with this. I think I can sell it. Email me the manuscript direct. Let me write down my email. PDF please and I’ll see what I can do.”
The man smiled and practically floated away. Claude’s afternoon improved. Science fiction and horror began to rub off. There were all kinds of new shows on television that discussed the possibility of aliens and vampires being real. Science fiction and horror could replace the commission of the diet doctor. He could hang another bestselling cover in his office. One of these books could be the basis for a new pilot or even a movie. For a moment, he felt the same excitement he had once felt at the onset of his career and got excited. Maybe this was why Veronica sent him here. He woke up from his daydream and began to take notes.
The first girl science fiction writer sat down in front of him. She was also the first of the dozen or so writers to be under forty. He guessed her to be somewhere in her early twenties. She was short and small with long dark brown hair and amber brown eyes. Her eyes were captivating. They were shaped like almonds and outlined with thick eyelashes. He wasn’t sure about her race, maybe mixed or Hispanic or even Native American-definitely exotic. She was pretty in a self-conscious sort of a way. She wore no makeup, a plain black shirt, a crystal necklace, and jeans. There was something witchy and grungy about her, like she belonged in a novel about witchcraft.
“Okay, are you ready?” Claude asked. She nodded and he started the timer. Silence. “Let’s start this again.” She nodded but still would not speak. This was a first. Out of all of the windbags he listened to, she was the first to be tongue-tied. “Let’s do this with no timer. Don’t be nervous.”
“I’m so sorry. I’ll try this tomorrow,” she said and then got up from her chair. Her eyes watered and her skin reddened.
“Miss, there is no sci-fi pitch fest tomorrow. Here, look at the schedule.” Claude slid the itinerary her way before she walked off. “It’s all paranormal and romance crap tomorrow.” He got her to smile. “C’mon, sit down. Trust me, my opinion on this subject is meaningless. I specialize in diet books and nonfiction. I’m here because I was late. Try your pitch on me, I’m harmless.”
She reddened again, embarrassed at something he must have said. Hotel workers entered the ballroom and began collapsing the cubicles, putting round tables in their space. He had a two hour reprieve and then it was cocktail time.
“There kicking us out,” the girl said. “Guess it wasn’t meant to be.”
“Let me assume you are coming to the cocktail hour.” The girl nodded. “How about you drink up some false courage and then pitch me?” She smiled and nodded. Claude wouldn’t mind taking her back to his room at the end of the night, but there was something more. She had his attention.
“I’ll be here. I’ll be ready then,” she said.
Yes, Vegas was getting better and better.
“Ha! Do you like that?” Vincent laughed devilishly. “You never respected me! But after today, you’ll never win again!” He pushed even more lightning bolts toward Jak. “You’ll have to go home and tell them that you were beaten by your little brother. Everyone will see that you’re not so perfect after all.”
Jak’s blue striker crystallized from the intense heat of the electric bolts. “Aaaahh!” he screamed. He tried to deflect the powerful torrents.
“You are nothing!” Vincent yelled.
Jak wheezed with the last of his strength. His words strained from the bottom of his diaphragm to the tip of his tongue. “It is a shame. Your first victory will be our last moment as brothers.” His face tightened. His brows merged. Moisture soaked his forehead. His knuckles whitened around his striker. His muscles locked up. “You need to know two things.” Jak paused to catch his breath. “I love you. I always have… Aaaahh!” A chilling scream bellowed forth before he could finish.
Vincent’s anger softened once he had won. He tried to release the rail and stop the flow of electricity, but something from beyond held his hand on the track. He vigorously struggled to let go, but it seemed an invisible force kept his hand there against his will.
Jak’s power met its limits. His striker could no longer take the electrical assault. It exploded into fragments of tiny blue shards. The lightning bolts devoured him.
Everything went dark as Vincent collapsed.
A strange, uneasy silence fell.
Face down, Vincent clumsily groped his way through the pitch-black tunnel. With a remorseful tone, he called out to his brother. “Jak, I’m sorry.” He began to stutter. “I was just… I don’t know… I was being stupid and mad about dumb stuff. I’ve never felt that kind of anger before. I didn’t know what I was doing. I swear. I’m really, really sorry. ANSWER ME!”
Dina Rae brings an academic element to her novels by weaving research and history throughout the stories. Big Pharma, Big Agri, Big Conspiracy is Dina’s first nonfiction work. Dina lives with her husband, two daughters, and dog outside of Dallas. She is a Christian, avid tennis player, movie buff, teacher, and self-proclaimed expert on several conspiracy theories. She has been interviewed numerous times in e-zines, websites, blogs, newspapers, and syndicated radio programs. When she is not writing she is reading novels from her favorite authors Dan Brown, Stephen King, Brad Thor, and George R.R. Martin. She also enjoys reading about religion, UFOs, New World Order, government conspiracies, political intrigue, and other cultures. The Best Seller, her newest sci-fi novel, is released by Solstice Publishing.
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