Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Exit, Pursued by a Bee is driven by an Arizona-bred heroine-astronaut, involves a Palaeolithic mongrel call Kur, Glastonbury Festival chaos, steamy sex in space, a loose-cannon journalist and an out-of-control general. They are all involved in the attempt to overcome time-quake calamities created when alien artefacts depart from Earth, oblivious to the chaos they leave behind. This book smashes our assumptions about time in astonishing ways.
June 23rd Lunchtime on the mystical hill of Glastonbury. The famous festival music could just be heard.
She’d already told herself this was no ordinary earthquake. She’d experienced a few first hand in California, and they didn’t rumble on for ages like this. They come in short bursts, only seconds long. Yet the hill was shaking so much she had difficulty keeping her feet. She reached the piece of sandy-coloured limestone bedrock against which she’d first steadied herself, and aimed the digital videocam east, at the distant Glastonbury Festival. She’d expected to see emptying fields as the crowd escaped, but she could see on the distant giant screens, a rock group leaping and twisting as they belted out another musical gem.
Reaching the shallow fissure, she plunged the spade in. Why did she have an urge to dig? Defying logic she dug more in the mix of soil, turf and limestone. Another minor upheaval, releasing earthy smells into the air, sent her onto her back. She saw Derek thrown to the floor too as he tried to reach her. Back on her feet, her ears aching from the roaring noise, she raised the shiny new spade and stabbed again at the chasm, which had opened a little more. Again it merely struck limestone rubble, jarring her arm. An urge compelled her to see if anything just beneath the thin soil was responsible for this phenomenon. Was it a result of logical analysis that this event couldn’t be related to seismic disturbance nor volcanic? No. Her logic circuits partly worked that out but a more ethereal need drove her on. A feeling, intuition; a culmination of the esprit of Avalon, her scientific and engineering training, along with bloody-minded curiosity forced her to lift the spade again.
“Come back down, Kal. For God’s sake,” yelled Derek, his voice wailing across the thundering noises.
Clang. The spade hit another rock sending sparks where quartzite and steel met. Her nostrils pinched with a smell of burnt sulphur bringing memories of when as a child she smashed a lump of white and grey quartzite laced with yellow sulphur. She dropped the spade, which slithered further into the crack out of reach. She rested her enviably flat stomach on the ground, feeling small stones through her shirt. Stretching, she grabbed the handle. A strange tingling sensation travelled up her arm to her head. Totally, unlike anything she’d experienced, and she’d been through throb hell: stinging nettles on this hill, purple-striped jellyfish at Long Beach, and the literal hair-raising moment when a shuttle simulator became a stimulator with an accidentally electrified hull. But none of these buzzed her brain. Not that her grey matter was frying, but it had tingled. She had the prescience and presence of mind to consider that her arm was slipping in and out of phase, but it could’ve been the increased vibration.
“Kallandra. Good God, woman, come back down before you turn into a firework.”
“I will. Just let me get this spade.”
Although the shaking ground made upward travel more like a fairground ride, Derek managed to reach her. “Bugger the spade. You should’ve seen yourself.”
“I nearly did. What did you see?”
“Your hair stood up like a luminous porcupine.”
“That’ll be my blue highlights. I knew they’d set off my brown hair.”
“How can you be so calm? We’re in the middle of Armageddon.”
“That’s why I’m a pilot and you’re an engineer.”
“And spaceship designer. Your life support system would soon fizzle out—”
“Without your cunning design. I don’t underrate your genius, Derek, but you do panic unnecessarily. Now can you reach the spade handle? It’s slipped further down.”
“Leave it. I’ll buy you a dozen.”
“I want that one. Something’s happened to it. There, you have it.”
They both stared at the shiny business end. At least two inches was missing as if it had been dipped into the sun.
“That’s it,” Derek said, his voice trembling with fear in addition to the physical quivering. “It must be a volcano and we’re on top of it!”
“It can’t be. Feel the cut end, it’s cool.”
“For Heaven’s sake, Kal, you could’ve burnt yourself.”
“Life is one big chance event, Derek. Anyway, you win. Let’s go before these clouds of gnats suddenly remember we’re food.”
Purchase Exit, Pursed by a Bee at:
Note: When bought through the publishers Double Dragon Publishing the purchaser may freely download an Escape Velocity magazine.
About the Author:
Geoff Nelder has a wife, two grown-up kids, and lives in rural England within an easy cycle ride of the Welsh mountains.
Publications: Humorous thriller Escaping Reality in 2005; Award-winning science fiction mystery with hot-blooded heroine, Exit, Pursued by a Bee in 2008; Another thriller, Hot Air, was published in 2010 after receiving an Award d’Or from an Arts Academy in the Netherlands.; A science fiction trilogy, ARIA with an original premise is to be published in 2012 by LL-Publications.; An urban and historical magic realism fantasy, Xaghra’s Revenge, is in the hands of the Rebecca Pratt Literary Agency.
Having had around 50 short stories published, Geoff was chosen to be the short fiction judge for the Whittaker Prize, 2009. Geoff is an editor at Adventure Books of Seattle, and is a freelance editor for other writers.