Where In the Hell is the Next Kari Hunter Book?

WindowSeatDecember 4 marked a very important milestone for me: the anniversary of THE FOURTH CHANNEL release.

When I look back on the last year, a scene from the movie “Tin Cup” comes to mind: Kevin Costner plays a golf pro at a small town driving range. When he enters the US Open, the attention causes him to develop a glitch in his swing and he’s completely unable to hit the ball. He manages to hide his problem, but privately he’s having a crisis, trying to fix his swing so he can play. At one point, he’s standing in his RV, decked head to toe in tacky, plastic golfing gimmicks that he once eschewed, when his love interest, played by Rene Russo, walks in and catches him in his most humiliating moment.

This last year has felt a lot like that moment.

Continue reading “Where In the Hell is the Next Kari Hunter Book?”

Sci-Fi Pinups: Mr. & Miss November

Pin Cushion Stop your grinnin’ and drop your linen—it’s time for the Sci-Fi Pinups!

If this is your first time joining us, welcome! This is the monthly segment where we celebrate the hunks and hotties of the science fiction and fantasy world—the strong men and women with the guts, guns, and green skin to prove they’re the best and baddest. They ain’t your momma’s pinups.

Unless you have my mom. She’s pretty awesome.

For more pinups, check out our previous submissions.

Since I’m late on the pinups once again (gah), let’s just jump right into it!

Miss November hails from good, normal British stock—and don’t you dare look down on her for that. She’s loyal, brave, and is a fast draw with her wand. She can do everything a boy can do, except figure out a magic spell for manageable hair. When you’re in a jam and don’t know how to get out, never fear—her love of libraries has made her brain an encyclopedia! There’s never a problem she can’t solve with her books and big noggin. But before you scream, “Nerd alert!” let me assure you that she’s seen quite a few fights and never backs down from anything or anyone. The only thing bigger than her heart is her patronus.

She is…

Hermione Granger

…Hermione Granger from Harry Potter!

If you’ve never heard of Miss November, you must have been living under a rock for the last fifteen years. You should make yourself acquainted with our Miss November immediately! She’s strong, she’s brave, and she’s smart—everything we like in our sci-fi ladies. None of that whining, crying, hiding under the bed for her! And if you try that kind of behavior in her presence, she’ll pull you out by your hair and turn you into something awful. Believe me, she can do it.

Here’s a little more in case you can’t get enough of Miss November:

Moving on!

Mr. November comes to us from Astoria, Oregon. Like Miss November, he’s locked and loaded and always packing for a fight. At first glance, you’ll think he’s dressed like a young flasher-in-training, but once he shows you what he’s packing under his trench, you’ll change your mind faster than you can say “Pincers of Peril.” When the chips are down and his crew’s in danger, he’ll stand in the gap and whip out his contraptions. Hopefully they won’t punch him in the face first. Mr. November sticks with his friends to the end and never says die.

He is…

Data - The Goonies

…Data from The Goonies!

I realize this movie’s super old and you probably haven’t seen it in a long time, but it’s so good. And Mr. November is great! He uses his brains and his heart to overcome adversity… and score some pirate treasure.

In case this just isn’t enough of Mr. November for you (of course it isn’t!) here’s a little more:

Thanks for joining me for another month of Sci-Fi Pinups. I hope it brought you a little smile. If you like what you see and want a little more, pick up a copy of my bestselling comic urban fantasy novel, THE FOURTH CHANNEL.

Subscribe to the site for more! The links are in the sidebar, and you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Pincushion photo courtesy of Lina-Sydney. Continue reading “Sci-Fi Pinups: Mr. & Miss November”

The Cure: Part Five (Vote Your Adventure)

IncubatorThis is the fifth part of an adventure series where YOU determine the next step in the story. If you’ve been following the story thus far, you’ve probably noticed that I haven’t stuck to a strict schedule as I typically do. Unfortunately I’ve been dealing with other things that have kept me from being diligent about my schedule. So I understand if you’re asking yourself: where in the hell are we in this story?

The “parts” are short, so it’s not hard to catch up:

Part One: You and your team are on a suicide mission to infiltrate New Milwaukee. You don’t get the antidote you were sent for, but you do find the scientist responsible for the demon-human-hybrid virus sweeping through your city. You kidnap the scientist, then voted to head to the southwest exit toward the armory, medical suite, and garage.

Part Two: You exit the ladder shaft on the armory floor, hoping for some weapons. Unfortunately, you’ve exited into an ambush. You voted to run for it rather than jumping back into the ladder shaft.

Part Three: Your decision results in being trapped in a tiny room filled with occult training gear that you don’t know how to use. Before you can run out of the room to safety, the security forces outside decide the best way to deal with you is by unleashing a full demon to destroy you. You voted to stand and fight the demon.

Part Four: You shove a book into Tankwald’s hands and read the demon into submission. You make a hasty escape in the demon’s cage and set the demon on the security forces outside. You voted to escape through the quarantine zone.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, we continue with Part Five! Leave a vote in the comments below or on Twitter. Voting ends Saturday night.

You decide to head into Quarantine. You reinforce your grip on Tankwald’s wrist and yank him behind you, toward the closing emergency door on the right side. Tankwald, still in hysterics from the near-miss with the demon, isn’t helping you along. When you reach the orange striped area marked “Quarantine,” he pulls against you, trying to break free.

“We can’t go into quarantine! Even I’m not allowed inside!”

You don’t answer. There’s no time to argue. You need to escape this facility and you’re determined to bring Tankwald with you. Hopefully, New Milwaukee’s security forces are so occupied with the rampaging demon that you can make your escape unnoticed.

“Please let me go,” he pants. “I won’t tell anyone where you are. I’ll say you knocked me unconscious. Hell, feel free to do that if it makes you feel better!”

By the time you both reach the door, the armor plated slab is two feet from the ground. You dive for the narrow opening, pulling Tankwald with you. The slide through the door is a sloppy, painful affair, but you make it to the other side safely and pull the flailing scientist through. Just as Tankwald’s limbs clear the opening, the door seals, muffling the gunfire, shouts, and demonic tongue.

You stand and drag Tankwald to his feet. Before he can say more, you grab his wrist and start running. You see a security checkpoint up ahead—short posts bearing card readers. The security detail that should be standing guard is gone, probably recruited to deal with the demon.

You blow through the checkpoint, setting off another alarm that warbles an excruciating, high-pitched howl at regular intervals, accompanied by purple warning lights that flash against the orange walls. But no one else comes. This section has been evacuated. You continue to run down the long, narrow hall and pull the resisting Tankwald behind you.

You find the first door about thirty feet from the security checkpoint. Three large windows are set in the wall just after, to provide viewing from the hall. The door looks like an interior door but you make no move to open it, in case you catch a weird disease. Besides, all you want is an exit. As you run past the windows, you see a large, dimly lit room crammed with incubators. And babies. Wall-to-wall babies. Maybe this is a sick ward?

You continue on, pulling Tankwald behind you. His energy is waning, dragging you down like dead weight. The emergency alarm is still going, throbbing in your ears, and the lights are flashing. But you still see no one. There’s no one here but you, Tankwald, and those weird babies.

Sixty feet from the checkpoint, you pass a second door identical to the first. You’re so focused on finding an elevator or stairwell that you barely notice the windows.

A startled cry from Tankwald snaps your attention to the window. The room is larger than the first and crammed with incubators, though these are larger to accommodate the toddlers sleeping inside. You immediately see what Tankwald was reacting to. The sleeping children all exhibit deformities you’ve seen before: sharp black talons, small horns the color of new and flushed flesh, small leather wings, and more. You realize they’re grouped by the strains of disease that Tankwald created.

You aren’t surprised by the sight, just sickened. Humans have birthed so few children since the initial demonic invasion that they’re a priceless treasure. You can’t help but think of your niece who suffers from the same affliction, and you reaffirm your goal to bring Tankwald home and force him to create an antidote.

As you pull Tankwald past the windows and continue down the hall, you hear him sob. “They’re children…” His voice trails off for a second. “The virus I created was for soldiers—willing participants who wanted to become the next great evolution of mankind. They promised—”

You cut his sentence short by stopping dead in your tracks and whirling on him. His red-rimmed eyes widen in fright. “Do you know why I’m here?”

“T– t– to kill me?” he stammered.

You shake your head. “To find a cure to your disease. My six-year-old niece is morphing into one of your demon-hybrid freaks.” You lean in close and fix him with a cold stare. He shudders. “I was advised that this was a suicide mission but I volunteered anyway. I didn’t find the cure, but I’ll do them one better and deliver you—” You turn away and clamp down on Tankwald’s wrist again. “—if I can find the way out of this damn place.”

As you continue down the hall, the alarm shuts off with a snap, leaving cold, startling silence in its place. The purple lights continue to flash incessantly. You pass by two more rooms but you don’t look inside. Tankwald says nothing about them, though you sense his horror and despair.

Just beyond the second room you spot a service elevator on the left wall. Relieved, you make a beeline for it and pound the up-button with your fist repeatedly. You can’t leave this hallway of horror soon enough.

“Wait.” Tankwald’s voice struggles to be heard, choking through tears and labored breath. “Look!”
You glance over your shoulder and look at a metal door that you thought led to another incubation room. A small sign reads “Control Room.”

You shrug, turn away, and resume pounding the elevator button. Just how damn long does it take for the elevator to get here? If you’re lucky, it will take you straight to the garage so you can get an armored vehicle and get the hell out.

“Please,” Tankwald says, trying to pull his arm away. You hear him trying to wrestle the control room door open, but it sounds locked. “Help me,” he says. “There’s a self-destruct code built into the machines.”

You pause, fist in midair by the elevator button, and you turn to him. “Pardon?”

“In case of invasion,” he explains. “We don’t want the technology falling into enemy hands. We can destroy all the machines.” Tankwald starts throwing his thin body against the door, trying to break it down. The desperation in his voice is clear. So are his tears. “Please help me.”

Behind you, the elevator chimes. The doors open.

Tankwald throws himself against the control room door again, but a thunderous sound overshadows the one he’s making: the demon is pummeling the security door. Another deafening slam suggests it will be through within minutes.

What do you do?

A. Help Tankwald destroy the machines, and then get into the elevator.
B. Forget the machines! Jump into the elevator.

Don’t forget to vote! Leave your vote in the comments below or send me a message on Twitter. Thanks, guys! Hope you’re enjoying our latest adventure.

Incubator photo courtesy of Silent Observer. Continue reading “The Cure: Part Five (Vote Your Adventure)”

Sci-Fi Pinups: Mr. & Miss September

Pin Cushion Grab your 20-sided dice and a giant bag of Funyuns—it’s time for the science fiction and fantasy pinups of September! If this is your first time joining us for the pinups, welcome! This is the monthly segment where we ogle two hot specimens that will certainly set your phasers to stun, if you know what I’m sayin’!

Yeah, I don’t know what I’m saying either.

Anyway, the pinups are hot and ready for action! If you’d like to catch up on previous pinups, click the Sci-Fi Pinups link in the sidebar. (Our list of hotties started in January 2012, so if you want to peruse you’d better go to your bunk.)

Miss September is the girl next door from the rainy city of Seattle. She’s so adorable and such a sweetheart that you’ll offer to hack into the school computers to raise her grades. But don’t let her catch you doing it—her high moral standards will make you change it right back. Her turn-ons include talking computers, leg warmers, and bombing Las Vegas. Turn-offs include global thermonuclear war.

She is…

WarGames - Jennifer

…Jennifer Mack from War Games!

Isn’t she adorable? I confess, this month’s female pinup was largely inspired by the book Ready Player One, a must read for nerds like me. There are a ton of ’80’s references and trivia, and War Games gets a major shout out. (Not going to spoil it for you, so if you want to know more, click the link and read the book!)

And now, here’s a clip of the iconic scene that shows Miss September (and Joshua the computer) being adorable.


Shall we play a game?

And now for Mr. September! He was born on a battlefield, and the lust for adventure and mayhem took hold of him right from the womb. His days are spent wandering around the land, enjoying local cultures and making friends—and then pillaging the towns, strangling their kings, and becoming their ruler. That’s ambition, ladies! His turn-ons include oiled biceps, leather codpieces, and the lamentations of women. Turn-offs include nothing. Mr. September is always on.

He is…

Conan the Barbarian

…Conan the Barbarian! With sword placement that isn’t at all phallic!

If you head out on the town with Mr. September, bring your sword and your loincloth and prepare for a night of romance and pillaging.

As an added bonus, a very talented individual created Conan the Barbarian: The Musical! It’s a song from Conan to you. Pay special attention to the 2:09 mark for the best part of the song. Seriously. I watched that part ten times and nearly died laughing.

Thanks for joining us for this month’s pinups! If you like what you see and want a little more, pick up a copy of my bestselling comic urban fantasy novel, THE FOURTH CHANNEL.

Subscribe to the site for more! Link is in the sidebar, and you can follow me on Facebook or Twitter. Next week, we’ll post another episode in our “Choose Your Own Adventure” style story, THE CURE. So stick around for more!

Pincushion photo courtesy of Lina-Sydney. Continue reading “Sci-Fi Pinups: Mr. & Miss September”

The Cure: Part Four (Vote Your Adventure)

Steel DoorThis is the fourth part of an adventure series where YOU determine the next step in the story. Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. If this is your first time joining the VYA, welcome! You can jump in and vote at any time so please vote! Voting ends on Saturday night.

In Part 3, the vote was almost a landslide to stand and fight the demon. Good luck, Gang!

You decide to run for the workbench. On your way, you grab Tankwald by the collar and drag him with you. Still paralyzed by fear, he stumbles backward, his eyes locked on the demon taking up the entire doorway. You grab one of the black gauge-and-needle contraptions from the bench and sling the strap over your shoulder. As you’re reaching for one of the silver rings hanging on the pegboard, a memory from your short time in basic training flitters through your mind: words have power.

You grab a small black book from the tall stack, flip it open, and shove it into Tankwald’s hands.

“Read,” you hiss.

He blinks and stares up at you stupidly. His mouth opens and closes like a fish. No sounds come out.
The demon enters the room. It doesn’t walk, but it doesn’t glide either. It simply comes forth. Even now, though it’s been years since the initial invasion, you have no words to describe how they move. Supernatural beings defy the laws of this world, even when they take physical form.

Tankwald takes a step back. His knees start to give way.

You grab him again, hauling him to his feet. “Read, damn you!”

Your words galvanize him into action. He blinks and looks at the book in his hands as if noticing it for the first time. His words are robotic. He stumbles through the ancient text printed on the pages.

“T- t- tene tene isene ereth! Vron erebekk bet!”

The demon stops moving, as if barred from coming closer. You place your hand on the back of Tankwald’s neck and push him forward.

“Keep going,” you order.

The demon’s black, soulless eyes bore into you. You think the creature is moving backward. It’s hard to say. You know it isn’t moving forward, and that’s at least better than the situation was five seconds ago.

Tankwald wipes his brow with the back of his hand and continues. You have no idea what he’s saying. From the look on his face, he isn’t entirely sure either. He reads another line and you shove him forward another step. Behind the demon, you can see the box it was kept in. The thick metal walls have strange symbols and foreign writing engraved in the steel. The walls are so thick, you’re sure it comprises a few layers, each one bearing similar symbols to keep the creature contained.

A low rumbling fills the room that causes the hair on the back of your neck to rise. Tankwald reads faster. Louder.

The demon braces itself, standing to full height, stretching its arms stiffly at its sides. Its fingers elongate into razor-sharp tips. Its mouth opens. A cloud of brown and green fumes billows forth from the fanged hole, smelling of bile and feces. The feeling of terror returns, raw and real. Your muscles clench so hard they hurt. Moving is damn near impossible. You can’t help but marvel at how effective demons are at manipulating your mind. Like many others, you suspect that this, not physical force, is Hell’s greatest weapon.

You concentrate on Tankwald’s voice—the thin, shaky words barely heard beneath the growing hellish hum—and you shuffle to the side. The demon’s eyes flicker to you, then back at Tankwald. You take another step and the black gadget hanging on your arm slips down to your elbow. Its swinging motion sparks an idea. You grab the strap and force yourself to take a step closer.

The demon looks conflicted. It moves forward, then back. It sees you trying to sneak around and it moves toward you, but Tankwald’s girlish screaming sends it back. The hum gets louder. As you move closer to the door, you hear the soldiers shouting outside.

“Retreat?”

“No! Hold your ground, dammit!”

You glance at the metal box in the doorway then back at the demon. If you had a gun you could end this. But you don’t, so you improvise.

You wrap the black gadget’s thick strap around your hand and swing. The metal contraption sails through the air and slams into the back of the demon’s head. Black ichor splatters from the wound. Leathery wings sprout from the demon’s back, expanding like onyx sails as the demon crashes sideways to the floor. The humming stops. You’re pretty sure the demon isn’t dead, but you don’t stop to check—nor do you wait for the damned thing to get up. You grab Tankwald by his lab coat, scramble around the demon, and run for the metal box.

You shove Tankwald inside. He tumbles forward and smacks against the back wall. His sloppy landing pushes the box away from the door frame, reminding you that it’s sitting atop a rolling cart.

Tankwald’s scream increases and his eyes bulge at something behind you. The sound of rustling wings fills the room and a tremor ripples beneath your feet. The same fear that gripped you moments ago comes flooding back.

The demon’s up and it’s pissed.

You put your hands on the sides of the metal box and push. You don’t know where you’re going and you really don’t care. You let out a primal scream and give the cart a strong shove. The wheels move. Adrenaline kicks in and you turn the cart right, into the soldiers.

Tankwald continues screaming. “It’s coming! It’s looooooooooose!”

You join him, hoping your combined panic will divert their attention. “We’re all going to diiiiiiiiiie!”

Around you, soldiers are barking orders, some shouting to retreat, others shouting not to retreat. A single bullet slams into the metal and ricochets off into the wall. Chaos and panic erupt.

You push the cart into the soldiers. You meet resistance as you slam into someone and knock them down. Soldiers flatten themselves against the wall, trying to squeeze around the metal box. Someone grabs you from behind and tries jerking you back. A human voice screams in your ear to surrender. But you don’t stop pushing and you don’t look back. You know what’s coming.

And in a single breath, a dreadful, tangible silence descends upon the hall. Within seconds it’s broken by a roar of ancient words. The front of Tankwald’s pants darkens.

Soldiers run past you, no longer concerned with you or the scientist fleeing the scene. After thirty feet of pushing you slam into the wall at the end of the hall and flop headfirst into the box.

You scramble back out and toss a glance over your shoulder, just in time to see a torso flying through the air.

No limbs, no head. Just a torso.

The demon towers over the soldiers. It’s staring at you.

An alarm goes off. You hear an official voice over a loudspeaker, calling for reinforcements and a lockdown. The overhead lights flicker and turn red. To your left, you see armor-plated barriers lowering from the ceiling.

If you don’t move, you’re going to be trapped.

You roll the box down the left hall, trying to get past the dropping barrier, but you don’t make it in time. The barrier clamps down and pins the box in place. The lowering mechanism makes a horrible grinding noise, but the box is too strong to collapse. You put your whole body into it, but you can’t push it loose. The mechanism gives up and the emergency lights start flashing in a new area. Somewhere up ahead, you hear a backup barrier coming down.

A familiar deep hum fills the air and you glance back over your shoulder at the corner you just came around. Bullets tear into the wall and you catch a glimpse of a black, leathery wing.

You drag Tankwald from the metal box, squeeze around it, and run. You soon find yourself at another crossroad with a barrier closing on each side. On the left, the hall slopes downward into darkness. At the edge of the light, you think you see a stairwell heading down into pitch black. To the right, the walls have been painted orange with the word “Quarantine” in bold black.

You turn to ask Tankwald which way to go when a deafening slam fills the air. More gunfire. Screams. Another slam, and a metallic screech that curls your toes.

The barriers are lowering and the demon is trying to get past its box. It hasn’t forgotten about you. You have only a moment to decide which way to go.

What do you do?

A. Run left, down into darkness.
B. Run right, into a quarantine zone.

Vote in the comments or on Twitter. Voting ends Saturday night, September 21st. The highest vote will be the next step in the story, posted in two weeks.

Steel Barrier photo courtesy of Anjan Chatterjee. Continue reading “The Cure: Part Four (Vote Your Adventure)”