Then I clocked in and found out that I was actually scheduled 11 to 8:30. Still, it could be worse, right? Just an extra two and a half hours.
Then we got slammed for reasons beyond my comprehension. Business tends to slow down a lot during the summer, but last night made up for the last several weeks of the slow-down. I ended up being stuck there until after 10pm. So...over eleven hours. Without a lunch or any other kind of break. I normally don't get sleepy until 2 or 3 in the morning, but I was out like a light before 1.
And today, aside from running a few errands, I didn't do anything until this evening, when I started working on chapter 8 of the book I'm announcing here.
The new book (well, it'll probably end up being around ten chapters or so, so it's more of a novelette or short novel) is titled Game Over, and I've just posted the first chapter over at FanStory. I started working on this quite a few months ago, and have been doing some rewriting over the last few days. Originally, it had the rather bland title of Arena, but I decided to try on Game Over and see how it fits. I've used a few one-word titles already, and not only that, but one-word titles are so...Star Trek: Voyager. Meh.
This new book is a different story with a new batch of characters and a completely alien setting, but a few connections to my other novels and Elsewhere crept into it while I was writing. At least a few clues about the space-time rifts in Elsewhere will appear, if not an outright answer to the mystery, before the final chapter of Game Over comes to a close.
Here's a brief excerpt from the first chapter:
Want to find out what happens next? Head on over to FanStory.com to read the whole chapter. XD"Ow." Dylan Engstrom opened his eyes and found himself on a hard metal surface. "What...?"The last thing he remembered was sitting at his desk, sipping a cup of coffee, and preparing to join his buddies for a few hours of mayhem in Grand Theft Auto V. At some point after that, everything had simply...faded out.I'm dreaming. That's gotta be it.He rolled over, stood, and fought off a wave of dizziness. He rubbed his hands over his face, took a few breaths, and waited for his vision to clear. When it did, he found himself in a chamber the size of a gymnasium, with metal walls, ceiling, and floor. No windows. Several doors at the far end. And filled with...aliens? Or something.Sure, why the hell not? Since this is a dream, I might as well just roll with it.He shook his head, turned slowly, and stared at the nearest creatures.One a few feet to his left looked like a bipedal dragon, easily ten feet tall, with muscular arms and powerful thighs and small but noticeable breasts under a tunic that looked like it was made from the skin of an animal. She glanced around, confusion and fear in her reptilian eyes, and he guessed she had also awakened moments ago.Past her was what appeared to be an orc, of all things. Also female, dressed in leather and furs, like a barbarian, sporting huge muscles but somehow managing to still look feminine. Her burgundy hair was tied into a long ponytail with a few locks hanging past either side of her face. A pair of fangs as long as his thumbs jutted up from behind her bottom lip. Her dark green skin looked kind of leathery, and her face...well, she certainly wouldn't have won any beauty contests even without the two big, parallel scars running from her forehead down and across her right cheek. And that broad, ridged nose. And those fangs or tusks or whatever the hell they were. And that Neanderthal-looking forehead.Still, there was something about her--the angles of her cheeks and her wide jaw and chin--that exuded an air of great strength.But then, he gazed into her yellow eyes as she glanced around, frowning. She appeared to be somewhere in her forties, but there was far more mileage in those eyes than on her face. They were the eyes of someone who had all but given up on life.He looked away reluctantly; while her face wasn't all that attractive, goddamn, what a body. He ran a hand through his shoulder-length, light brown hair, and decided to check out some of the other life forms. His eyes passed over a large number of creatures he couldn't quite get his brain around--translucent things walking on tentacles, something that resembled a millipede the size of a horse, an eight-foot-tall cross between a pig and an ogre--and locked on to another female.He almost chuckled at that. Mind always in the gutter, even now. Oh well, what can ya do?This one was around six feet tall and might be described as somewhere between chubby and burly. Her eyes glowed white in contrast to her obsidian skin, but aside from that and her pointed ears, her face was mostly human. And quite lovely, in fact. A pair of horns curved up from under her wild mane of silver hair, like a ram's horns. She wore a dark blue cloak with a hood hanging over her back, and from what he was able to glimpse, she didn't appear to be wearing anything under it. Each hand had two big fingers and a thumb, just like the orc and the dragon-woman, and her digitigrade legs ended in large hooves.Okay, a few of her features were weird, but other than that, she was hotter than hell. He guessed her age to be close to his, or maybe a few years older, and the extra weight was perfectly proportioned.She caught him staring at her and smiled, but it was shaky and faded fast.He smiled back before she looked away and continued examining the people around him. Over to the right was a trio of bipedal creatures that looked like a cross between horses and cows, wearing some sort of tribal attire. Past them was a quartet of twenty-foot-long snake people with four arms, wearing only skirts made of glowing multicolored beads roughly where the naughty bits on a human would be.Dylan's eyes, once again, automatically locked onto the lone female in the group. Her skin was dark brown with a red and black diamond pattern running down her back. Her hands, like the orc and the chunky hooved girl and the rest, had three digits, only hers ended in claws. The top of her head swept back into a curving, three-pointed crest. Her bare chest sported two pairs of breasts. Her face was close enough to human, though covered with scales, and she was actually kind of cute.Hah. I can't dream about a human with four tits, of course. It's got to be some weird creature. Oh well, those are nice enough to look at, anyway.He glanced around again, trying to find other humans. If any were in this chamber, they weren't close enough for him to pick out of the crowd. But his gaze did pass across something that was pretty close, at least in size and shape.The robot stood with her arms crossed over her chest, leaning against the wall behind him, about ten feet away. She had apparently been designed to look like an athletic woman, with a face of flexible metal carrying a friendly--albeit confused--expression and softly glowing red optics. Her gunmetal body was covered by a pair of cargo pants, boots, T-shirt, and a long black coat.Interesting. He wondered if she was anatomically correct.Before he could check out anyone else, something nudged his shoulder. He turned around and found a nine-foot humanoid wearing armor and a helmet with a blank faceplate. It grasped his shoulder, pointed at one of the doors at the far end of the chamber, and pushed him toward it. He stumbled, regained his balance, and hurried ahead of the whatever-it-was.In the corner of his eye, another hulking armored figure shoved the orc woman in the same direction. She snarled half-heartedly, but headed for the door. She ended up walking alongside Dylan.He spotted other nine-footers herding other nearby captives in the same direction."I don't suppose you have any idea how we ended up here or what's going on?" He doubted the orc would even understand him."Nope. I was hoping someone around here could tell me that." Her accent was an odd mixture of Russian and Scottish."You speak English. You've met humans before?""A few." She smiled at him, but it was tinged with sadness. "You remind me of one of them, actually. Someone I knew long ago.""Ah. Decent guy, I hope."Her smile grew ever so slightly. "The best. I miss him a great deal."Dylan wondered what happened but assumed it was a sensitive matter and kept it to himself.When they reached the door, she sighed and motioned at her clothes. "The one time I put on the old outfit instead of what I usually wear, which includes several guns. Though I suppose any weapons would've been taken away before I woke up."Dylan checked his pockets and his shoulders slumped. His phone, wallet, keys, and all the other crap he kept on him, were gone. Too much to hope for, obviously, but still disappointing. Not that he would've had any use for it in a situation like this.The nine-foot goons shoved both of them through the door and onto a large platform. He stumbled and the orc reached out to catch him before he fell. He regained his balance and found himself inches away from her face for a moment, gazing into her eyes, until she looked away and steadied herself. Her face turned slightly darker green.Dylan caught himself blushing, as well, and tugged on his shirt collar. He glanced around and noted the others who'd been separated from the main group--the snake-girl, the three horse-cow people, the hooved BBW, the giant bipedal dragon, the robot chick, and about a dozen others.Two of them were human. He grinned, but before he could greet them, something else caught his attention.The goons who'd herded them onto the platform remained behind as the door closed.Oh, that can't be good.