by Junior Sokolov
Genre: SciFi Action, Adventure
After a life lived for parties, sex and drugs spiraled into grief, she went to selling herself and fighting for survival.
Now one Boljelam's angry rebels, she leads a cheapened life on one of the most unjust space station in the universe. Then, she finds an unexpected way out.
An escape from a life of abuse and hardship in the form of a ticket on a ship set for Honeycomb. Taken from a dead woman's purse, it's a one way ticket to a new pristine planet, to heaven.
Will she be able to pull it off and get out alive?
Or will two rabid cops, a zombie AI and a level full of monsters in her way keep her escaping?
And what about that bio-engineered murderer dogging her steps. He wants out as bad as she does!
The deformed little bastard has been following her for blocks; her mistake had been taking out her boarding pass in plain view of anyone with a set of functioning eyeballs. Why, why the hell had she done that? Because every time she looked at the brightly colored, thin, encoded metal pass she felt excited about what amounted to an adventure, a once-in-a-lifetime chance to live on a
real planet, that’s why. And it had gotten her this wraith on her tail. Damn him.
She walked faster, ducked into an alley, so close to the ship, so close.
She sprints and hears him pick up his pace. She’s about to scream for help when he catches up to her and pushes into the wall.
“Shut it, just shut it! I don’t want to hurt you. Give me your pass and your backpack, and I’ll leave you alone.”
She can’t help the revulsion she feels; her disgust etches a mask of repugnance on her face. The monster in front of her has gold-yellow eyes with pupils that aren’t entirely round — the scales of his skin give him an almost metallic look and his coloring keeps changing.
“Get away from me, you, you think. You sick—”
Like a soul possessed she rakes his face with her nails.
He hits her then, and keeps hitting, fist flying inflicts one cruel blow after another; deep buried within him a core part of his being screams at him to stop before he does something he’ll regret forever. But lost to the rage of emotions that core part is overwhelmed by the anger, and it can only watch as if from far away, out of body, as his hands wrap around the woman’s neck. When the barbs in his palms inject his poison, he starts to cry because he’s gone too far and can’t go back.
Yelling from the alley’s entrance breaks the moment.
“FREAK, you quit that! Pick on someone your own size!”
She places her forehead against the transparent metal wall that shields her from the unforgiving void of space and watches the ships that dock or depart from Boljelam’s tenth-level port.
To her left, the worn Mirabelle, the small Malfa, the powerful Hreif. Ahead of them all, the grandiose, silver-and-gold Raleigh—which ferries the pilgrims of the Sonshine Ministry—looks like a swan surrounded by lesser ducks. Then to the Raleigh’s right there’s the colorful Okuzenzekelayo, wildly alive with the colors ancient kente. Next to her in quiet dignity moors the hulking Phoenix. She
can’t think of a birdlike comparison for her, a whale, maybe; an armor plated sperm whale. When Brea had been well, they’d watched the ships together, speculated about their destinations, plotted fantastical hijackings, setting course to paradisiacal planets. Now Brea is gone, her sister’s absence felt like a rugged hole had been punched in the center of her chest then filled with sorrow. The loss has left her alone to admire the coming and going vessels, to wonder about their destinations. Now, much of the pleasure is gone, she no longer cares or thinks that there might be a better place, not for her, anyway.
A whore is a whore is after all, with a sigh she steps back from the transparent wall. She’s been sorrowful and grief-struck for so long now that she doesn’t feel her eyes tighten or her mouth curl downward in an arch of misery.
At least the last guy had paid well. All in all, she could’ve done worse for herself. The others she had met that day were no winners, but at least now she’s got the rent covered, along with assured party favors for the next few days.
From behind the food cart, Josey Patten pours hot, fragrant soup in a large cup. She's become a regular at his noodle cart where the plentiful bowls of soup are delicious—better yet—he doesn't judge her and has always welcomed her as if she matters. He hands her a steaming container of veggies and noodles with a promising aroma. “Extra hot, more broth, but I added some extra chicken for you. You eat that now, all right?”
“Yeah, that's the ticket.” She smiles, it stretches over her face erasing her wary expression, making her look years younger and far more innocent.
"Look at that! When you smile you don’t look old enough to drink, and you're too skinny. You always look so sad, come to our Soul Realization group, hang out, make friends with good people, stop living like this. Anyone can realize their soul, it’ll set you free.” He shakes his head and frowns, the action
creating a map of concern on his pale, craggy face. “This lifestyle is not good for you."
She knows, but as long she isn't hurting anyone but herself, why give a shit?
She beams him her best, unguarded smile, the one that implies that one day, she just might join his realization group, but for now, they both know the answer.
"Some other time, maybe. Not really into organized realizations, you know?" With a shy shrug she walks away. Salvation through realization. Well-meant as it is, the idea of joining a Soul Realization group doesn't do it for her. She’d have to give up rocks toking, fucking and partying, not to mention force-stop her embedded AI and realize her ‘soul’ at least quinto daily. She glances at one of the watches in the wait station. It’s too damn early in the new day; she’ll finish eating, call it quits, and pick up some rocks before heading home. She beelines for one of the outdoor tables beneath the shade of potted trees, but before she can begin to eat, a sharp yell of pain followed by the sound of a struggle spikes her heartbeat, wipes out her appetite.
“Damn, what the hell...” She quickly turns to and fro, looking for the origin of the noise, searching for the threat. The struggle is in one of the smaller side alleys. She should ignore it but instead takes a few steps toward it. Then she keeps walking and hears harsh breathing, thuds of bone on flesh, nothing, one second, two seconds, three...
A final shout turns into a sound of pure anguish before it’s brutally cut off.
She can’t help it. ‘You’re born curious,’ her mother used to say, and she’s proving that again.
It’s an all-too-short distance to the source of the scream. In a low-lit alley, a DNA Fail straddles the body of a woman, his hands still around her neck. A tick hood covers most of his face; what she can see is a face wet with tears but contorted with fury. His victim twitches, too feeble to fight now, but her wild eyes find her.
Connection made, she can’t help herself. “FREAK, you quit that! Pick on someone your own size!”
He snaps around; she sees nothing but unforgiving rage in his eyes. The Fail makes a brutal final choice, flexes the muscles in his arms and hands to crush the fragile windpipe then drops his victim to the ground. Now free of one distraction, he sprints toward her with a guttural hiss, so fast she doesn’t have the time to think or blink. So fast her fear takes flight and instincts take over and she throws the scalding soup directly at his face. Oh, she delights in his screams of pain.
“Yeah, that's right! Hurts, doesn't it? Son of a bitch!”
Her pent-up anger and fearsome grief mixed with bitter resentments soar free like wild birds. She attacks the blinded Fail like a mad dervish with a flurry of kicks and blows until one kick lands lucky at the back of his knee, something gives, and with a yelp the Fail hits the ground.
“I got company, you fool! I got friends!” she growls. “They are coming for you!”
It’s a blatant lie, but it feels nice to say it as she keeps up her attack.
The Fail bears under the attack, his face burns, and his eyes feel like they are on fire but he looks around. The moving blurs at the alley’s entrance could be her friends, and that could be trouble. Enough is enough. He scrambles to his feet—damn her if his knee doesn’t feel like it’s cased in cement—shoves her back on her ass then hobbles away into the alley.
“Take this with you!” she yells, still gasping for breath as she picks up from the cluttered waste on the ground a broken, discarded metal nut; it fits her hand like it was custom-made for this moment and she hurls it at his head with admirable aim. The thick sound of metal hitting bone brings a smile of victory and satisfaction to her lips. It’s a perfect throw that face-plants the Fail into the ground, but not for long. Spitting curses, he forces himself to his feet and vanishes in the labyrinthine maze of the alleys of Boljelam,
“Yeah, that’s right...go cry home to Mother. Bitch! Oh wait, you can't! Your momma was a test-tube cocktail! Creep!”
Giddy with victory, a wide toothy grin plastered on her face, she catches her breath, her body buzzing with the adrenaline blast that makes her blood feel electric. When had been the last time she’d felt this good? Damn if she can remember.
“That's right!” she snaps then turns to the still body on the ground. “Hey, you okay? Bad trick, huh?”
There’s no response. It doesn’t look like the woman is breathing, either. She puts the tip of her shoe against the body’s shoulder, then with a strong pushes rolls it over.
Reclusive writer from the Pacific Northwest. Hates peanut butter loves Mojitos (sin alcohol, por favor). Sometimes found around 60 feet (ca. 18 m) underwater in the Puget Sound or at about the same depth in the blue and clear waters of Cozumel hovering over a coral reef and hoping to see a shark or a large majestic green turtle.
"I love thinking of the intersection of new science and horror, the future haunted houses could be space stations or our own scientifically enhanced and hacked bodies,"
Interview Junior Sokolov
General Background Questions
• Where are you from?
The great northwest, specifically the Oregon part of the Great Northwest. Portland which sadly, is no longer weird. But still has lots of good restaurants and Powell’s Bookstore.
• As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
It changed from month to month. Vet, austronaut, cowboy, doctor
• What do you do to unwind and relax?
Read, work out
• What is your favorite food?
I’m not picky, but I hate meatloaf.
Questions About Writing
• Tell us your latest news.
I just completed my first solo novella in the Honeycomb series. Honeycomb: Boljelam
• What inspired you to pen your first novel?
Wren Cavanagh, good friend, knows me well.
• Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
William Gibson and working in the technology environment
• What genre are you most comfortable writing?
• How did you come up with the title for your book(s)?
It was supposed to be Honeycomb: Dock Lizards, a reference to lot lizards, the sex workers in the trucking industry. As the story grew so did my appreciation for the characters and the term Dock/Lot lizard started to feel disrespectful. Also Boljelam, the huge space station where the action takes places grew in presence as I kept writing.
• Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Everyone should be treated humanely and with respect. Unless they are the bad guy. Then you shot them into space.
• What are your current projects?
The sci/fi-horror scify/horror-colonization full length novel in the Honeycomb series. Quint, the chief lawman for the town of Revaltion will have to deal with native monster, an incoming religious faction crash landing nearby and human turned monsters. It’ll be great!
• What is the hardest part of writing?
Making the event timelines work, and doing your best to entertain the reader.
• What was one of the most surprising things you learned in writing your books?
Recognizing that some of my characters defects, were in fact my own. It helped me address those flaws in myself.
• Is there anything additional you would like to share with your readers?
Be excellent to each other.
• What are you reading now?
Radium Girls, Endurance and of course I just finished Midnight in Chernobyl
• What scares you?
Serious illness, poverty the loss of loved ones. The current condition of the planet. Letting people down.
• Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite horror book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of the horror genre?
Ghost Story by Peter Straub is one of my favorites. The Stand of course. House of Leaves is not quite horror but I enjoyed thoroughly. There are just so many.
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