by Stella Telleria
Publication date: November 2013
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction
When Mia Mitchell, a hardcore but lonely former Marine, steps into an alley to pull some thugs off an unlucky foreigner, she walks into a fight she expects. What she doesn’t see coming is the foreigner making her a job offer any sane person would refuse. So, she takes it. She thinks she’s headed for some third-world country; instead she’s mysteriously transported to an Earth-like parallel world. That’s a mad left-hook.
Mia discovers a matriarchal dystopia where freedom doesn’t exist and fighting for it means execution. Lethal force bends all to the law; women fear for their families and un-wed men suffer slavery. Mia’s job is to train an underground syndicate of male freedom-fighters for a violent revolution. However, the guys don’t want a pair of X chromosomes showing them the way.
Eben, an escaped slave, is encouraged by Mia to become a leader among the men. But when he turns his quiet determination on her, it spells F.U.B.A.R. for cynical Mia. Their unexpected connection threatens more than her exit strategy; it threatens the power struggle festering with in the syndicate.
Haunted by nightmares and post-traumatic stress, unsure who to trust or how to get home, Mia struggles to stay alive as she realizes all is not what it seems.
I continued putting books and figurines back on the shelves. The sound of broken ceramics and ambient street traffic filled the room.
“I’ve buried three husbands,” she added.
I placed another framed picture of a different wedding on a shelf. A young Mrs. Bateman smiled in the picture. I wondered how she had survived such sadness and how so much pain could find its way to certain people’s door steps. I scratched at my left wrist but forced myself to stop. I understood why she lived alone now.
The two most insignificant words, words I’d heard a million times, came out of my mouth. “I’m sorry.”
She nodded. “Most people think it’s a joke I’ve buried three husbands.” Her voice was hard.
The glass of the picture caught a glint of sunlight. “It’s not,” I said, and heard an ambulance off in the distance through her open window.
“I don’t know why some think it is.” Her eyes seemed unfocused. “It’s not easy watching the ones you love die.”
She was hurt, she’d lost things she’d loved, and maybe she’d lost confidence in her independence. I could understand those things.
“Maybe it’s some people’s way of dealing with it,” I said. The siren became louder—getting closer.
Mrs. Bateman sat staring at me. “Of dealing with what?”
I went back to placing a bunch of unbroken records on the shelf. “That fortune holds no favorites. That everyone dies.”
A fragment of a figurine stood out of the wreckage on the floor. A decorative ceramic mask smashed roughly in half. It was white with sparkles painted on the lips and a tear glittering on its cheek. It lay there with its broken side to the floor and a wave of déjà vu hit me in the gut. The broken figurines and records became gravel. The mask became Sergeant Kosher’s head, what was left of it. The sparkled mouth became blood that caught the light. The tear was some other bodily fluid that seeped out of his remaining eye because there’d been no time for tears. His brain was scattered around his head like a halo. Kosher, the patron saint of car bombs. He never saw that IED; he never knew what was coming. It’d made me feel better about it somehow.
“The worst isn’t what people say,” I said.
“What’s worse?” Mrs. Bateman’s voice was hushed as if we were in church.
“That there’s nothing you could’ve done or will do to make their deaths worth it. Nothing that’ll explain why you survived and they didn’t.”
I love old war movies, dystopian fiction, and any story with action, a good plot, and characters I'd get into a fight at the pub for. Not that I'm a brawler or anything. Unless you think that out-of-print book or vintage piece at the thrift shop is going home with you instead of me. Then, my friend, the gloves are off.
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