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The Tunnel People (Short Fiction Young Adult Science Fiction Fantasy)

by R. L. Saunders on 2018-06-09

While Marj is helping urban archeologists, she discovers a secret map that she hides from the authorities. It tells of an underground system of tunnels that cross through mazes of paths under North America, using old limestone caves and aquifers, even connecting to the old ICBM missle bases. 

It had been a long and brutal war. At the end, one side was banished underground, long decades ago. If this was true, the war may not be as over as they thought.

She enlisted Rob to help her decipher this map and explore this underground world. They have to work in secret as many of their "finds" have been known to disappear, along with the discoverers. 

These two lone researchers find in each other more than they expected. And that just adds to the problems of decyphering and accessing the underground secrets of the Tunnel People...

Excerpt: 

We only had a half-hour or so before it would be too dark to make our way down the trails without stumbling. And from these heights you used the existing light, or you set yourself up to be spotted with your flashlight beams.

So maybe 15 minutes to talk was all the chance I was going to get. And he knew it.

"So? You are up here to either seduce me or hire me or blackmail me - or some combination of the above," Rob said.

I just smiled, "Or some combination of the above."

The clouds were slowly turning from red through violet into black as we sat there. Patient watching would almost let you see the changes.

"OK, five minutes. Make your pitch, 'Marj', and then I leave," Rob said.

"Well, that leaves out seduction." I smiled. "Here's the job offer: I've got some maps says I can get from one coast to the other all underground, using high-speed government and Geek-Corp transport."

"But...?" Rob asked.

"Need one of your hacks," I repied.

"Not just any hack, you want top-level transport ID clearance," he answered.

"Pay is no problem - whatever you want," I said.

"Sorry, I don't do government stings. Find another lackey." Rob pushed the the four remaining cans back at me, and becan to rise.

I put my hand on his arm to stop him, and the feeling was electric. It's a hard thing to describe, and I'd only read other's attempts at making sense of this in some old paperback romances my mom used to read. But it's real. Very real. Just proved it to myself.

And I could tell in his eyes that he had felt it, too. He also stopped moving completely. He stared at my hand on his arm and back to my eyes again. "I though you said seduction wasn't possible in 5 minutes."

I moved my hand away and looked back at the sky. "That wasn't intentional, I'm sorry. Go ahead and walk away. This won't work out."

But he didn't move. That meant either bad or good. But I wasn't looking for either outcome. I crossed my arms in front of me. "This wasn't a good idea. Sorry."

"So am I," he said. 

Rob pulled another can out of the plastic holder, popped it and drank a swig while I was getting my thoughts together.

"Look, neither of us seem ready for some relationship out of this. You got a card with contact data on it?" Rob said.

I pulled out a laminated card from my top and checked it. "Yup, still sweat free. Go ahead and scan it, though. No chip in it." 

Rob held up the card and peered at it before stuffing it into the right chest pocket of his faded jeans jacket.

"OK, I'll be in touch." With that, he rose, turned, and left.

I looked out at the sunset while I chewed my lower lip in some sort of weird reflex...


Mind Timing (Short Fiction Young Adult Science Fiction Fantasy)

by R. L. Saunders on 2018-05-28

Can the future be saved by returning a woman to affect the present?

Peter was a perfect gentleman. When he showed up at an all-woman's club unannounced, the defences came up. Mari met him, surrounded by women like herself who battled criminal men daily. There was no longer any need for physical sex, the war between sexes had already been won.

Yet here was a white male in a three-piece suit asking for her help to save humankind.

This one man, who says he is from an alternate universe, wants to recruit a specific martial arts expert with the idea of saving our future by altering the present. Two people taking the balance of future lives into their own hands.

Surprisingly, this is a romance in the making. And a story about enabling religion to save humankind from itself.

"Dark humor. Non-politically correct ideas. Another wild satire from R. L. Saunders - that keeps you wondering..."

"One more C. C. Brower paranormal future history to savor..."

Excerpt: 

No, I had no physical fear of any man who showed up in front of me.

But his attitude, like the quaint bowler he passed off to our bouncer, was precise and a statement of its own. Old-fashioned. Of a time before the sexes were at war. Before women had won.

"...and civilization became just that, ma'am, an unending civil war." the stranger finished my thought.

"Intriguing, sir. I don't know your name and already you are inside my head, the ultimate hack to privacy," I replied, showing a hint of outrage.

"And you have every reason to be upset, Marigold. My name is Peter. And I am at your service." At that he extended a well-manicured hand, in the quaint, nearly extinct custom of hand-shaking.

I rose and took his hand more out of curiosity, knowing that my thin layer of dermal plasticine protected me from any direct poison, nano-biotic, or bacterial infection. Beside pheronomic door sensors had already passed him while x-ray scanning him against any weapons.

"Welcome, Peter. Call me Mari. You are just the mystery I've been seeking to relieve the tedium around here." I replied. He had a firm grip, one calculated to show respect, as that of an equal, not dominant or afraid.

"Thank you for seeing me without notice." Peter said.

I indicated the other matching overstuffed chair, the two separated by an ornate marble-topped side table between us. And we each sat, crossed our legs and studied the other for a few moments.

"How you understood my thoughts is some parlor trick?" I asked.

"More like being able to recall conversations in retrospect. But you'll realize that soon enough. We've met before," Peter replied.

"Not like Merlin, you are living your life backwards?" I asked.

"More like the vast majority of us are. Like the old phrase, 'those who refuse to study their own history..."

"...are condemned to repeat it.'" I finished.

Shocked to my core, this was the very challenge I was looking for.

"The next question you would then ask yourself is whether you are up to that challenge," Peter said.

"And again, that nasty habit of mind-reading you've been displaying," I replied.

"I'll give you a few seconds to study what you just said." Peter now spoke in terse terms. "Your reply will determine if I leave or stay. I have other appointments with several similarly-qualified women of power and station," Peter said...


A Sweet Fortune (Short Fiction Young Adult Science Fiction Fantasy)

by R. L. Saunders on 2018-05-21

A Simple Job: Make a Delivery and Get Paid a Fortune - Or Die.

What he was driving was an up-armored trailer rig. And was getting paid a fortune to deliver something to a fortified city.

To someone who had a fortune to spend on it - if he only survived long enought to cash in.

The boxes were unmarked and had to stay sealed.

But when he arrived at the delivery location, there was no building there. Just someone jamming all the frequencies except the one that showed bombs going off...

Dark humor. True love. An instant family. And a city gone psychotic.

Excerpt: 

The drive up to 'Cogga was almost as bad as working down from upstate to N'Yack. Only you got to see more farms and less plantations. 

I'd driven them both and didn't much like one or the other. But I somehow survived both trips, more than once, and so I kept getting hired to make them. Sure, they paid more, but that was the deal. You had to have a human driver to get across their borders and through their security. And you had to be a mean SOB to get out in one piece.

Of course, it didn't hurt that my rig was built from a pair of surplus MRAPs. Built to survive even IED's that these polite, "Tolerant" urbanites left around as their form of "free speech" to make their "statement" on the underside of one of the trucks that was bringing them their food and other vital supplies.

Food wasn't the same as raw material like sawdust. They didn't have no trees in there, so they didn't make anything out of actual wood. But they didn't mind we brought them leftover sawdust from the cutting some farmers did to make real furniture everyone else bought. In those cases (like our scrap metal salvage, plastic recovery, and gravel-rebar mix) they just had these big lots outside where trucks didn't have to go into the city proper and security was more devoted to keeping track of their own cranes as the tractors outside filled the bucket to unload somewheres inside.

But the land outside the city was owned by some individual with connections and they took the risk that someone would sneak out and sabotage their tractors. They'd tried importing containers of raw stuff, but those usually got a hole blown in them once they were left inside the city's high border walls and so wouldn't be worth anything when they came back across. So that owner had a crane that reached over the city walls and would drop down to pick up a load in its big claws, then hoist it into the city to dump for re-manufacturing.

I don't recall the last time anything got built inside one of those places. Things just got rebuilt.

And the people in there were mostly rebuilt, too. Hardly anyone come in or out these days, except us driving fools. But we were just crazy enough to try, and had enough sense to be able to count toes and fingers to make sure we came out with the same amount as when we went in.

Anyways, I like to talk, and so I'm getting far off the mark for this story.

You wanted to know how I got hitched and started a family all on the same day, the one where I almost lost my life a few times before I met her.



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