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Shell Shocked (Working Title)


So, here is the preface for the one off I am publishing in December! Again, these are still what I consider rough drafts. Not even the fabulous Miss Lisha has seen these yet, so these little teasers may change a lot. Please forgive all misspellings and grammar errors. No matter how many times I read on a computer screen, I never catch them all until I can read it on paper.

So, just to give you a little description, this story starts durin the last years of WWII. Again, forgive all errors as I am still researching. This is close to being a steampunk fantasy, but this is not a light hearted book and war is not in any way glamorized. That said, while the preface may be rated G, there are some pretty nasty things later on. You have been warned (and will be warned again when I release it). Without further ado, here we go!

*****

I hate this place, Buddy Parks thought in the hot, perfumed night, full of the sounds of foreign animals rustling in the nearby sugarcane, or maybe that was the Japanese soldiers. There was never any guarantee of what –or who – was out there. Since the day he’d arrived, he’d been waiting for that moment when he could go home. He read the letters his brother sent him until they were soft and the creases were black with dirt. Sometimes, when he tore the envelopes open, he thought he caught the scent of red dirt and oil derricks, but he knew that was just wistful thinking; his parents and his baby brother had moved out of Oklahoma, following the rest of the rough necks to the Illinois plains and a newer, richer oil field.
Theo was only fifteen, and his letters were sometimes scrawled on bits of paper torn out of a notebook with notes on his schoolwork on the other side, but that didn’t matter. The letters were full of excitement over the new place and all the things Theo was discovering on a daily basis, things they’d never seen or had in the dusty, hot reaches of Oklahoma. He didn’t always word things right, but Buddy Parks was discovering a new found love for a brother that had once been known only as ‘the pest’ to him, a small, buzzing annoyance amid the voices and adventures that populated Buddy’s world.
His mama’s letters came, neatly written on her favorite stationary, her delicate script pausing often to insert things his father had wanted passed along, just like a conversation on the paper. Always, though, he could feel the undercurrent of their worry, all the things they weren’t saying, but were definitely thinking. They knew enough to be frightened for him, even though he never told them the really bad things. Theo, though, was too young to have heard the bad stuff and really put it in the same thought as his heroic older brother and he couldn’t have seen any of it because their dad still refused to buy a television and Theo had no time for things like newsreels. It was a breath of fresh air to hear from ‘The Kid’ – Buddy’s pet name for his brother when he wasn’t with his older friends – who prattled on about his new school and the basketball team and his new best friend – who had the prettiest older sister – without that sense of saying everything else just to avoid saying what he couldn’t stand to think.
Buddy shifted his weight and listened to the rustling cane in the hot, still air. Animals. He hoped. He kept one hand tight on the butt of his gun, the other on the muzzle. In the light of the moon, he could see the dark, definite lines of his new tattoo on his left arm. It ran from wrist to elbow and the red haired cowgirl wasn’t wearing much more than her cute little smile. She’d been wearing less than that when he’d sobered up enough to realize his mama was going to beat him hard enough for getting a tattoo, but she’d kill him for having a naked girl. His buddy Jim had just laughed, taken another good drink of whiskey, and drawn in some skimpy clothes. He twitched his arm to make the cowgirl shake her hips a little. He wondered if Theo’s best friend’s older sister really was pretty. He kind of hoped she was a redhead. He also hoped it was some animal shaking that damn cane and not a Jap. Please, God, let them be on their own side of the island tonight. Please.
A soft snick and an ominous rattle – metal on dirt and rock – answered his fervent prayers. He watched, horrified, as the grenade rolled toward him, then neatly through his legs like a bowling ball between the gutters for a strike. He didn’t pause to think about what – or who – he was leaping toward. He just leapt.