I believe I'm a couple of months away from a finished manuscript of Tyrannosaurs in the Sky, my 150-pages-or-so novel set in the world of The Running of the Tyrannosaurs. Also, a short story set in that same world, "The Screaming of the Tyrannosaurs," is going to appear in Samuel Peralta's forthcoming anthology Jurassic Chronicles. How awesome is that?? He read the story and wrote me this lovely note about it last night:"This is a pulse-pounding story, a triumph of world-building - a story of gladiatorial combat, and of bonds strange and transcendent. Without a doubt, one of the most enthralling stories I've come across for the Chronicles."That made me very happy. When Jurassic Chronicles comes out, I hope you will all get a copy!
Meanwhile, here is an excerpt from Tyrannosaurs in the Sky for you to enjoy, as I've been working ferociously on it.
EXCERPT: TYRANNOSAURS IN THE SKY
Copyright 2016 Stant Litore
From the cedar top I can see the crooked, three-headed tree under whose roots I concealed Mkimbizi. I remember the direction as I shimmy back down. It takes too long to get back, with that sound of cracking and dying always in my ears, always in my heart, and I curse my nanites. I wish they were out of me. I wish I could tell my body that I don’t want it to burn with adrenaline and run and slide down riverbanks and break my bones and heal them after; I just want to be able to stop and think and focus.
Mkimibizi is breathing easier when I reach him, and I am relieved; whistling, I call him from the undertree hollow. His steps are slow, but he lifts his head. The fever glaze is still in his eyes, but he is moving.
“Come on!” I cry. “We have to get away from here. We have to go.”
I take hold of the long feathers at his shoulders and break into a slow run with him loping beside me, his breathing heavy. To resist the fresh adrenaline the nanites are giving me, I recite aloud all the measurements of the other athletes, Egret and Hummingbird and Gazelle and all of them: breasts, waists, thighs, and all their scores from training. Numbers that defined the boundaries and constraints of my world for years. I start adding them, averaging them, running tables in my head as I used to do before each competition in the training house. The numbers steady me, a little.
Beside me, Mkimbizi begins to cough hoarsely, great explosions of white breath, but he keeps running, and I with him. “Faster,” I gasp, as the tables flash through my mind, “faster, Mkimbizi, faster, please, run, run, I love you, I love you, run!”
He puts on speed, his powerful rear legs pumping, and his eyes clear a little. “I love you, run!” I keep panting, “I love you, run!” because he is following my voice, he is listening, he is not giving up because I don’t want him to. And the cracking, the terrible cracking, is so loud behind us and maybe it is all around us now—I can’t tell—maybe the darkness and the withering will take us in another instant, but I am one of the ten or twelve finest athletes in the universe and he is a tyrannosaur, the most powerful running land predator that has ever, ever lived, and he and I, we can outrun anything, and now the adrenaline is overwhelming every number in my head but I have his feathers in my hand and I am not letting go, not ever, and I am running, I am running, the cedars a blur again, and he is running with me, and now he is charging. He is faster, even faster than I, though the nanites burn and crisp and die inside me to give me speed. I grip feathers in my other hand too and spring to his back. Then I am on him, blood pulsing through my heart, pounding in my ears, and we are charging so fast, so fast! A glance to my left shows trees twisting and writhing and shriveling before my eyes; a glance to the right shows the same. The taint, the illness, is in the ground even beneath our feet, for I can see the mosses blackening beneath Mkimbizi’s feet. “Run, damn you, run, I love you, run!” I scream in his ear, and he is bearing me through the forest as though he is a battleship of flesh and sinew.
A shriek like metal tearing apart, and an answering shriek, and two other tyrannosaurs burst from the wood just ahead of us and to the right, and then we are beside them and we are all tearing through the forest in stampede. They are larger than Mkimbizi, two massive does. They swerve to avoid larger trees, smash through smaller ones, and I duck low over Mkimbizi’s neck as one of the trees they wreck crashes to the ground to the left. Birds white and black screech overhead, fleeing with us. My eyes wide, I see a herd of deer bounding over fallen trunks ten meters to the left; then the trees around them twist and the deer fall, mid-leap, to the ground and their bodies twist and writhe and kick in an awful, awful silence.
“Run,” I whisper, so over-drugged on adrenaline now that as I turn my head I seem to be moving dream-slow; only Mkimbizi and the cedars flashing by are fast. “Run.” I am faint, and I grip the thickness of feathers at his shoulders tightly. I will not faint, I will not fall. I duck again as one of the tyrannosaur does swerves and its tail swings above my head, tree-thick. Mkimbizi screeches angrily and at a fresh sprint he overtakes the doe, dwarfing him as a lion does a cat. He nips at the back of the doe’s knee as he passes. She doesn’t bite back; her eyes are rolling in fear. Other deer burst from the trees before us and we run them down, the tyrannosaur doe to our right colliding with a yearling stag and crushing him beneath her clawed feet without slowing. Then they are behind us, food for whatever evil is eating the forest, and though trees sway and crack, we are still running. We are the wind, we are the wind. I am riding my tyrannosaur through fire that is without flame or heat, not the under the eyes of cameras but under the eyes of thirty thousand, thirty thousand women on thirty thousand days who will be my future selves, looking back at this moment in their memory. I don’t care if I look graceful for them, and they don’t care either; they don’t care if I am sleek and reeking with sweat, all they care is that my tyrannosaur and I live, that our hearts go on beating from one day to the next. We are not here for their entertainment but for their survival. Run, they are crying with me, run, Nyota. Run, Mkimbizi. Run. Run. Run. That word, again and again, the roll of the r and the hard foot-thud of the n, again and again, run, run, run, like a drum beating. Trees cracking and the doe we’ve passed collapsing suddenly on a snapped leg, a hoarse and almost silent screech, then nothing as she convulses. I watch her over my shoulder, then stare forward again, and everything in my body and mind has collapsed into the singularity of that one word, that one sound: run, run.
And we do.
We pass the other doe, her jaw flecked with foam. Birds crash to the earth just behind us, missiles from the sky. One smacks the ground right beside us, another hits my shoulders, knocking a cry from me, nearly knocking me off Mkimbizi’s back. It hurts, but my nanites rush to work, wiping the pain from bone and tissue.
There you are. Another "pulse-pounding" scene. That's all for now! Lots more to write, but my plan now is to release Tyrannosaurs in the Sky in spring 2017. And Jurassic Chronicles, with another story from me, should be out by then, too! I'm very happy with how all of it is going!Thank you all for the support, the encouragement, and the membership, without which none of this would be possible.