Tag: dystopian

Life After World War III

Tristan rolled his eyes. “Hey, dummy, guess what? We didn’t finish that quiz earlier.”

Tristan often used the word “dummy” when talking to Jake. Long ago, when Jake was only five, he and Tristan had sat in the living room floor in front of the mega screen one morning, watching an old cartoon. One of the characters had mumbled the word “dummy,” and Jake had gone into a fit of uncontrollable laughter. Puzzled, Tristan stared at Jake for a few minutes as he rolled around on the carpet. Since then, whenever Tristan wanted to lighten the mood, he dropped the word “dummy” into the conversation.

“Okay,” said Jake. “What’s the next question?”

“Who’s the current president of Phoenix?”

“Um, I don’t remember,” Jake yawned. “I think his first name is Tiberius.”

“I’ll give you partial credit for that one. His name is Tiberius Vaughn. You see him on The Official Information Channel all the time when you’re walking around in the corridors. He’s the skinny guy with black hair and blue eyes.”

“Oh yeah!” Jake blurted, raising his eyebrows. “That spooky guy who never smiles.”

“That’s the one. You know why he never smiles? Because he doesn’t have a soul!”

Suddenly, Jake leaned toward him. “Really?”

Tristan waved his paws around. “No, I was being sarcastic.”

Jake smiled, slumping against the tree trunk. “Oh, I didn’t know. A lot of times, I don’t know when you’re joking. Sorry.”

“Um, it’s okay,” Tristan said.

“What’s the next question?”

“This is the last one,” said Tristan. “Where did the name ‘Phoenix’ come from?”

“Uh, they call it that because it sounds cool?”

“No, dummy. The phoenix was a mythical bird that burned to death and then came back to life again. It rose up from its own ashes. That was the idea they had in mind when they were building this city. If the whole world was wiped out, they wanted America to rise again.”

Jake nodded slowly as he reflected on this. “So what’s the next question?”

Tristan waved a paw in the air. “That was the end of the quiz, Jacob. We’re all done now.”

Jake yawned again and closed his eyes. As the muscles in his neck began to soften, his head dropped.

“Don’t ever tell anybody I said this,” Tristan added, lowering his voice to a whisper. “But President Vaughn doesn’t have any real power at all. He’s just a distraction. He’s just a bunch of noise. Phoenix is actually controlled by a group of people you hardly ever hear about.”

Jake mumbled something Tristan didn’t understand.

“Sometimes, you see these people on The Official Information Channel, having their little meetings,” Tristan continued. “And sometimes, if you stay up late enough, you see them on another channel too. That’s when they talk about the juicy stuff. But they like to turn off the camera when things get really interesting. Oh, that makes me so mad.”

Tristan was mainly talking to himself now, just venting, but he was surprised when Jake didn’t respond. Then he looked up and realized his friend had gone to sleep.

Tristan lay back in the grass and relaxed under the electric sun. Through the tree branches, he saw holographic clouds scrolling by. For a moment, he imagined what it would be like to live on the surface and see real clouds. He wondered if clouds even existed anymore. There was no telling what the atmosphere was like these days.

Under the Electric Sun is a young adult novel that takes place in a luxurious underground city beneath the ruins of Washington, DC. Jake is a dimwitted young man with a kind heart. Tristan is his electronic tutor designed to look like a raccoon, complete with synthetic fur and rubber paws. Under the Electric Sun is available on Amazon. The paperback version is $6 plus shipping and handling. The Kindle edition is $2.99. You can click here to order.

Copyright 2013, 2015, 2017 Matthew David Curry. All rights reserved.

Books

I started writing when I was twelve and never stopped. Now I work in a factory, driving a rickety old forklift, but I still write books in my free time. Writing is more than a hobby for me. It’s a basic need like food and water. I mostly write science fiction stories filled with dark, twisted humor. Sometimes I write madcap comedies set in the South. I also write a little bit of nonfiction.

Finding Drake Novak combines science fiction and Southern Gothic. Drake Novak is a malevolent alien with bloodshot eyes and a black business suit. He draws his nourishment from the pain and sadness of other living things. He takes over a factory in rural Georgia and keeps all the workers as miserable as possible. He absorbs their frustration and despair the way a plant absorbs sunlight. Then a young policeman from the Galactic Precinct comes to Earth to arrest him.

Under the Electric Sun is a book about a robotic raccoon and a boy named Jake. They live in a luxurious underground city beneath the ruins of Washington, DC. One afternoon, as they relax in a room full of plastic trees, a giant praying mantis arrives and tells them it’s safe to live on the surface again. Their lives change forever.

I also love to draw. Sometimes, when people find out I’m an artist, they hound me to draw portraits of their kids. Or they describe tattoo ideas to me, asking me to draw all kinds of ridiculous, complicated things. Some people are downright rude and pushy about it. How to Make an Artist Miserable is a book about these annoying people and the ways I’ve learned to deal with them.

All my books are available on Amazon in paperback and e-book format.

You can click here to order.

Plastic Trees in the Underground City

Here’s an excerpt from Under the Electric Sun

When he stepped through the doorway, his feet landed on soft green grass. The large room was filled with towering oaks, tall pines, azaleas in full bloom, and clusters of bluebells along the ground. Bird songs echoed in the air, even though no birds were visible. In the center of the park, there was a clearing with a playground in it. A group of children squabbled over which one of them would go down the slide next. The dome-shaped ceiling of Bailey Park was painted a pale shade of blue with an electric sun burning brightly in the center. Holographic clouds glided across it, moving so slowly that they barely appeared to move at all.

The grass was artificial, while the trees and bushes were made of plastic and other synthetic materials. The birdsong came from tiny speakers hidden in the leaves.

Jake sat down in the grass and leaned against a tree trunk. He let out a long sigh, which seemed odd to Tristan. It was the type of sound an older person would make.

Tristan sat in the grass beside him. For a moment, they were both silent.

“Just get some rest,” Tristan said, trying to conceal his worry. “And then we’ll go to the pet store. Esmeralda might be working today, you never know.”

A cloud of sadness seemed to hang in the air around Jake. Tristan was hoping it would evaporate at the mention of Esmeralda’s name, but it didn’t. Jake had been enamored with the girl ever since he had first spotted her in the pet store two years ago, sitting cross-legged on the floor and changing the batteries in a light brown Chihuahua. Looking up at Jake and Tristan with her coffee-colored eyes, Esmeralda had remarked that Jake didn’t need an electronic pet. He already had a talking raccoon on his shoulder, which was far better than all the non-speaking animals in the pet store. Flattered, Tristan had thanked her. As Esmeralda had zipped up the Chihuahua’s abdomen, she had talked about her own tutroid, a hoot owl named Matilda. Unfortunately, Matilda’s brain was defective and she preferred to remain perched on the headboard of Esmeralda’s bed, babbling about the French Revolution.

As Esmeralda had talked about her faulty tutroid, Jake had stared at her with a dazed look in his eyes. She didn’t seem to mind his delirious gaze. She had kept right on talking about her love for Matilda and her fascination with electronic animals in general.

“It doesn’t matter,” Jake said now, leaning against the tree in Bailey Park. “Esmeralda’s too old for me. She doesn’t want to have anything to do with me. She just wants to be friends with me, that’s all.”

Tristan shrugged. “Hey, that might change one day. She’s only three years older than you. When you guys get older, that age difference won’t matter anymore. You’ll both be adults. Who knows what will happen then?”

Jake didn’t reply. Tristan desperately wanted to cheer him up, but he had already played the Esmeralda card. He couldn’t think of anything else to do.

“So what do those big blobs look like?” Jake asked finally.

“In the meeting, they said the color changes depending on how you look at them,” Tristan said, relieved that the conversation was taking a new direction. “From one angle, they’re blue. From another angle, they’re red. I’ve been trying to picture that in my mind.”

“I still say they’re giant mushrooms,” Jake insisted. “And they’re mutant mushrooms, because of the war.”

They had argued about it all morning on their way to the vehicle museum.

“No,” Tristan said, staring up at the rounded ceiling of Bailey Park, as if he could see the surface of the earth if he strained his eyes hard enough. “I think they came here from another planet. They just popped up out of nowhere two months ago. And they’re as big as mountains. How do you explain that?”

Under the Electric Sun is available on Amazon. It’s a book about a boy and his electronic tutor. They live in a luxurious underground city beneath the ruins of Washington, DC. The paperback version is $6 plus shipping and handling. The Kindle edition is $2.99. You can click here to order.

Copyright 2013, 2015, 2017 Matthew David Curry. All rights reserved.

Under the Electric Sun

With rubber paws and synthetic fur, Tristan looks just like a real raccoon. But he’s not. He’s a government-issued tutor. He can talk, crack jokes, and give history lessons about World War III. Unfortunately, Tristan has developed a cynical attitude about life because his last student always abused him and swung him around by his tail.

However, Tristan’s current student is a gentle young man named Jake Sheldon. The two are best friends. They live in a vast, high-tech city under the ruins of Washington, DC. People have lived in the underground city ever since a nuclear war poisoned the surface nearly a hundred years ago. One afternoon, Tristan and Jake visit Bailey Park, a large room filled with plastic trees and tiny speakers that play recorded bird songs. As they sprawl out in the artificial grass, an alien visitor approaches them and says he has studied Earth for many years.

After informing Tristan and Jake that it’s safe to live on the surface, the alien leads them on a journey up a long staircase. While Tristan and Jake are delighted to see real trees and sunlight, their lives quickly become more complicated than they ever could have imagines. As they taste freedom for the first time, they also suffer immense pain and tragedy.

Under the Electric Sun is available on Amazon. The paperback is $6 plus shipping and handling. The Kindle edition is $2.99. You can click here to order.

Copyright 2013, 2015, 2017 Matthew David Curry. All rights reserved.

Out of Time

An excerpt from The Quality of Life in Outer Space

The elevator door slid shut behind Gary. He walked along the street. Nearby, a man with a buffalo head stood beside an old streetlamp. The man wore an orange suit. He held a briefcase in one hand and a pocket watch in the other. He looked down at the watch and shook his big, shaggy head in frustration.

“Excuse me,” Gary said, waving one wing.

“Oh, what is it?” yelled the man with the buffalo head.

“An asteroid is about to crash into this ship and kill us all.”

The buffalo man rolled his eyes. “I don’t have time to worry about things like that. I’m on my way to a meeting. A big meeting. I’m waiting for the stupid taxi to come. He’s running late. It’s already seven o’clock in the morning.”

“But this is important,” said Gary. “We’re all going to die!”

“This is the biggest meeting of the year, you fool!” the buffalo man snapped. “You couldn’t possibly understand. We’re preparing for the big screaming contest. It’s vital that the orange team gets control of the ship this year. Now go away and pester somebody else, you little vermin.”

“But none of that matters right now!”

“It most certainly matters!” the buffalo man laughed. “The yellow team wants to ruin everything for everybody. The yellow team wants to take the locks off our doors, confiscate our money, and put our children in slavery. It’s imperative that the orange team wins the screaming contest this year!”

A black car came rattling down the cobblestones. It stopped in front of the streetlamp. The buffalo man jerked open the door and crawled inside. As the car took off down the street again, Gary heard the buffalo man yelling, “You stupid driver! You probably work for the yellow team, don’t you? You want to ruin everything for everybody!”

Gary hung his head and shuffled down the sidewalk. The Styrofoam snowflakes bounced off his head. He had no idea how close the asteroid was. He wished there was a window close by.

He walked to the nearest cottage and clawed at the front door with his talons.

The door opened. An old man looked outside and frowned. Then he glanced down and saw Gary.

“Sir, can I come in for a moment?” Gary asked. “I have something important to tell you.”

“Good morning,” the old man said in a deep voice. “Your face looks familiar. Where did you come from?”

“The garbage,” Gary answered.

The old man titled his head. “Have I seen you before? It seems like I know you from somewhere. I used to see you a lot. A long time ago, when I was just a child.”

“I don’t think so,” said Gary. “I need to talk to you about something right now.”

“Come on in. But I don’t have much time. You’ll have to make it quick. I have an appointment I can’t miss.”

Gary followed him into the cottage. The old man let out a sigh and fell into a leather chair. He had a white beard. It was short and neatly trimmed. He had dark, beady eyes and stout arms.

“What is it?” the old man grunted.

Gary flapped into the air and perched on the armrest of the chair.

“Listen,” said Gary. “There’s an asteroid flying toward this ship. If we don’t get out of the way, it will hit us.”

“I hate to hear that,” the old man said.

“I’ve been trying to tell people, but nobody will listen,” Gary said, talking as fast as he could.

“Doesn’t surprise me,” the old man groaned, staring down at the floor.

“Can you do anything about it?” Gary asked, fidgeting on the armrest.

The old man gulped. “Oh, I wish I could.”

“What do you mean?” Gary panted.

“I wish I could help you,” the old man said. “But I can’t. There’s nothing I can do. My time is almost up. They’re coming for me. They’re going to be here soon. You should probably get out of here before they show up.”

“What? Who?”

“Bird, do you know anything about this ship? Do you know how things came to be the way they are now?”

“No, sir,” said Gary. “I don’t. I’ve lived in the garbage hold all my life. In the dark, in the very bottom of the ship, watching soap operas I don’t understand. I’m afraid I don’t know much of anything.”

“Years ago, when our ancestors lived on Earth, they realized the planet couldn’t sustain life much longer,” the old man explained. “The air was full of poison from all the bombs. The ecosystem was all messed up because of genetically engineered animal soldiers running loose in the wild. There were hornets the size of helicopters and locusts that ate human flesh. And diseases that killed whole cities. Oh, it was a big old mess. So some people in North America built a ship and left Earth, looking for a new planet. And they took along some genetically engineered creatures to do the cooking and cleaning. At first, things were good on this ship. I remember people being happy and getting along when I was a little boy. But that was forty years ago. That was before the old captain disappeared. After he vanished, the Law Master took over. Ever since then, we’ve been flying in circles.”

“Flying in circles?” Gary said.

“Yes. Now we’re barely moving at all. There are lots of people on this ship, more than you would think. Most of them are divided into two teams. Not all of them, but most of them. You have the yellow team. And you have the orange team. And they hate each other.”

Gary frowned. “What do the two teams stand for?”

The old man laughed. “What do they stand for? Not that much. The yellow team says the orange team is trying to ruin everybody’s life. And the orange team says the yellow team is trying to ruin everybody’s life. That’s it, basically. The two teams do have a few minor differences, but they’re pretty much the same, really. They’re just dedicated to hating each other.”

Gary glanced at the door and asked, “Who’s coming? And why are they coming? And how soon will they be here?”

“I committed a crime. One of the worse crimes a person can ever commit. I let my emotions get the best of me. It was a dumb thing to do, but I’d kept it bottled up inside me for too long. It had to come out eventually, I guess.”

“What did you do?” asked Gary, shifting his weight from one talon to the other.

“I went to a meeting and suggested we should all stop screaming at each other. I said we should all lower our voices and talk in a more respectful tone. That way, we could work together and make progress.”

“And then what happened?”

“The whole assembly got quiet,” the old man told him. “Everybody’s eyes got big. They all just stared at me. Both teams hated me for saying it, but I know a lot of people secretly agreed with me. Then the Law Master stood up and pointed his long, green finger at me. And he gave me the death sentence.”

“That’s ridiculous!” Gary yelled. “Why would they give somebody the death sentence just for saying something sensible?”

The old man put his finger to his lips. “Don’t say it too loud, bird! They might come for you too!”

“This whole ship is crazy,” Gary said.

“The window is open,” the old man whispered, closing his eyes and resting his chin on his chest. “Fly out the window now.”

“What?” Gary asked.

“Don’t you hear the footsteps?” the old man said, keeping his eyes closed and his head down. “They’re here. They’re outside. They’re coming up the walkway right now.”

Gary jerked his head back and forth. “Can’t you run out the back door? Can’t you go somewhere? It seems like there’s something you could do!”

“No matter where I go, they’ll find me,” said the old man. “Nobody ever gets away from these people. I’ve been around for a long time. I know. There’s nowhere to go, nothing to do. It’s over now. I’m just going to sit here and wait for death. But I wish you luck, little bird. I hope you have some success.”

“No!” Gary cried. “You’re the only sane person here. I don’t want you to die!”

The old man smiled and opened his dark, beady eyes. “Bird, I know why you look familiar now. I know where I’ve seen your face before!”

“What are you talking about?” Gary said, shaking his head. “How is that possible? I’ve lived in the garbage all my life. This is the first day I’ve ever left the basement.”

“I told you we had a good captain when I was a boy,” he said. “Back when things were better. I don’t know what happened to him. But you look just like him. The human part of you, I mean. You know, your face. Your face looks just like his face. You look exactly like him. Same eyes, same nose, same chin, same hair.”

Gary snorted. “But how can that be?”

The front door exploded with a loud crash. Splinters flew all over the carpet. Gary screamed. The old man didn’t move. He just sat there, waiting for death.

“Go,” he urged Gary.

Two men in black suits stomped into the cottage, carrying silver guns. Their heads were bald and smooth. Their skin was light green. Their eyes glowed red. They both opened their mouths at the same time and showed their long, pointed teeth.

“There’s the criminal,” said one.

“Let’s carry out the execution,” said the other.

They raised their guns at the same time.

Gary didn’t want to abandon the old man, but his own self-preservation instinct took over automatically. He jumped off the armrest and flew as hard as he could out the window, into the flurry of Styrofoam snowflakes. Once he was in the air above the cottages, he glanced down and saw white light flash in the window of the old man’s home. He heard a long cry. Gary thought it would be short and quick, but it went on for a long time. The screaming and moaning and weeping seemed to last forever.

Gary cringed but kept on flying.

The Quality of Life in Outer Space is available on Amazon. Gary is an eagle with a human head. He lives on the bottom floor of a spaceship in a room full of garbage. When he looks out the window and sees an asteroid approaching, he takes off on a journey to the top floor to warn the crew. He learns some shocking secrets along the way. The Quality of Life in Outer Space is aimed at younger readers, but adults will enjoy it too. The paperback is $5 plus shipping and handling. The Kindle edition is $1.99. You can click here to order.

Copyright 2016, 2017 Matthew David Curry. All rights reserved.