The First Dead Man

Luke Spooner Illustration for Anthology Honeycomb: Set One by Cavanagh

Excerpt from Honeycomb: Set One by Wren Cavanagh and Junior Sokolov

The First Dead Man

Luke Spooner Illustration for Anthology Honeycomb: Set One by Cavanagh
They got him on the surgery table, hooked him up to a blood bag and undid the tourniquets. Whatever had gotten a hold of him had sheared through the flesh and bones of the lower legs as neatly as a bolt cutter. It took him hours to repair the damage, to ensure the kid wasn’t going to die on him. He then applied the protein pain gel and clean up and suture the wound so that once the prosthesis were ready, Haru wouldn’t find them too hard or painful. Then the clean up of the sick bay followed. Then a very short respite, before at last with Zara, he run the health exams for the new six arrivals.
“Yeah, it did. But we were supposed to get it done. Zara, please incinerate the torso and hose down anything it touched with heavy duty cleaner. I’m going to take a closer look at our friend.”
Napier a stocky, barrel chested man, with the waist size to match; he’s getting on with the years, a veteran of a war, something else he calls a skirmish, and decades of work on commercial and industrial ships, but can still move lightly on his feet. He doesn’t want to wake Haru, who’s still weak and needs rest, not to mention depressed as hell, but he needs to be sure. He goes to the small semi-private patient’s room, pulls up a chair next to the young man and gets his syringes, containers, and tubes set up then sits next to him.
“Haru, hey Haru, wake up,” he says and shakes the man’s shoulder.
Haru opens his eyes. The dark circles beneath them are still stark but not as bad as yesterday, at least today he has some color to him. “Wasn’t sleeping.”
“Don’t mope, back home they’ll grow your limbs back. Not even cybernetics, it’ll be real feet and real legs you’ll be getting back. You can even ask them to make you taller.”
“Right now, I’m useless, and I can feel them. I can feel my feet. It’s freaky as hell, but at least they don’t hurt. ” Haru replies, the recent trauma has weakend him and softened his voice, but Napier can still hear the tang of anger around its edges. Haru pulls himself up on his elbows until he’s almost sitting in up in the bed, then moans and shuts his eyes tight. “I feel woozy.”
“Lay back down, the woozy feeling will pass soon as you get something to eat. As for the feet, it’s a phantom sensation, it’s common, and it’ll probably be with you for a while. And you aren’t useless, we’ll get you up on legs exos, and you’ll be walking out of here and breaking everyone’s balls again in no time at all. For now, I’m taking some of your blood, and I need you to poop and pee for me too.”
“Like, fffh…What, why?! What is this, the twentieth century? How ‘bout a heavy duty scan?! You maybe got some leeches you’re dying to try while you’re at it?”
“There’s the Haru we know and love! Some critters that look like sand fleas came out of that miner’s body. I want to make sure you don’t have any weird parasite that hitched a ride. Don’t worry; we’ll do a heavy duty scan too.”
“There weren’t any in the water; they were in the sand.”
“So, you are an expert biologist now?”
“No, but the sand fleas, worms and other critters were squirming and hoppin’ all over down there. But, on the dry stretches. I grew up in a fishing village, I know those critters, and anyway; I had my suit on, read the report.” He replies and crosses his arms.
Napier smiles, nods then gently holds one of his wrists and unfold one of his arms. “I will do that, meanwhile, make a fist.”

“Not taking any chances,” Zara says to herself as she stuffs herself in a too-tight biohazard suit before entering the small morgue down a ways from sick bay. It’s a cold small room, on a regular day it would also smells cold. And it would also smell of medical cleansers and metal. It has a metal floor, walls, and ceiling; inside it’s barren, sterile and minimalistic with scant few edges present for anything alive to hide behind.
But this past two days have been far from regular, and today the stench of rot from the miner’s remains permeate the room, they lie on the metal table near its center drained of color, gray and waxy meat. She sprays the now hollowed-out torso with its lone remaining limb, the internal organs that they had pulled for inspection are just by it, with the harshest biohazard cleaner they have on the ship. She soaks the remains inside and out, over and under, until the man’s faded tattoos, so old that the artless blue and black lines have smudged to ugly blurs, vanish beneath the white foam. The cleaner sizzles the flesh, she flips the flesh and bones over one last time then resprays the back of the torso; finished, she stands back and gives it ten minutes while she watches for anything jumping or crawling out of the foam. Her breath is tight, and her scalps itch but Zara’s focus has the intensity of a hungry hawk watching for baby chicks in a hen yard. Rewarded with an absence of apparent life from the wet mess, nothing crawls about or slithers about that she can see., Zara slides the remains onto a wheeled and shiny stainless steel cart then pushes them over to the incinerator at the far edge of the room.
“So long miner. Good luck wherever you’re going,” she says and hits the incinerate button. “Now I gotta clean up the room…look’it this mess you left here for me miner.”

Read what happens next.


Illustration by U.K. artist Luke Spooner
Luke’s website
Luke’s Facebook page

The talented Ira Heinichen

I first became aware of Ira’s work when I saw the book with the fantastic cover by Tom Edwards. Let’s face it’s the cover that sells the book and this one was very, very cool. It was for the first book of the Starstuff trilogy! The book is ready for you to read, right now (On kindle unlimited even!) I wondered at the time who the writer was, never thinking I’d meet him, and then had the pleasure to meet Ira and the missus at the Vegas convention. Believe me, again, he’s a charming and kind person and you’d love to meet him too. He took the time to answer a few questions for NPH so…hear what he has to share and enjoy!

part of the cover of book Startstuff

What’s your newest book that’s coming out?

I’m currently working on the second book in my scifi Starstuff Trilogy, called “Escape from Red Tower.” Very excited!

What made you decide to jump in, write your first book and go public?

You know, I can actually trace my desire to be a published author back to middle school. I was a huge Star Trek nerd, and I was huge into Star Trek books…so I started writing one of my own. I never finished it because I learned there were these little things called “submission guidelines” and I was breaking two or three of them with my story idea (of course!)…but that was just one stop on a long journey as a storyteller as I grew up.

Most recently I was writing screenplays, trying to break into writing for television and I had an idea for a novel. It was something I’d always wanted to come back to after halting the process all those years ago and never finishing…and I loved it. LOVED. IT. Writing prose, for me, is so much more satisfying than writing for the screen, they’re very different mediums, and it was around that time I started learning about self-publishing and all the possibilities and successes. I mean, people were making very healthy livings selling their own books, and that was something that really, really appealed to me.

So…I made the plunge. So happy I did.

What’s the hardest thing about your publishing journey so far?
Believe it or not, it’s been setting my regular writing routine. When I was writing my first book, I had very small goals for myself; three pages a day. I did that for just over 3 months, and I had my novel’s first draft written. Granted, it took me just over twice that long to revise and re-write it, but those small little bites each day were very easy for me to stick to, and the idea of writing a book a year was imminently doable.

Now that I know more about writing and publishing, I know just how FAST some of these self-pubb’d authors are, churning out a book a month, some of them more. I’m definitely one of those people that’s like “well, sh*t, if they can do it, I can do it,” and I tried to replicate that kind of output.

I failed.

I can’t write that fast yet. I may never be able to write that fast. I really like to work and re-work my stories; even though I write what the industry would consider being “genre fiction,” which has the reputation of being rather pulpy and not that sophisticated, I do have a passion for good well-executed storytelling, and I try as much as my skills will allow me to write such stories myself. And that takes time.

So, my current struggle as I write my second-ever book is really figuring out what exactly my writing process is on a daily basis, and how long all the aspects of that process take me. Once I feel comfortable with all that, I feel like I can really aim to go faster…but I’m not there yet.

What would you tell to someone who’s just starting?

First of all: DO IT. Write that book. If you *want* to write a book, you should *write* it. It’s an incredible process of self-expression and discovery.

My next piece of advice is for anybody who writes a book and wants to be a professional at it: figure out your process. Don’t put the cart before the horse and learn all there is to know about marketing and publishing or plan out a years’ worth of releases when you’ve only got one or two books out. Keep your headspace where it needs to be: on the writing. The writing is the most important thing. Everything comes from the writing. Everything.

What other creative outlets do you practice?

Other than write, I do a podcast called “Two Guys One Trek” – it’s a journey through the original Star Trek series from the 1960s with my long-time comedy partner, who’s never seen it — you only get to watch something for the first time once, and we do it live on microphones!

You can check it out at www.twoguysonetrek.com

Where can we find out more about and your projects?

You can find me, my books, and my daily blog on my website, www.iraheinichen.com.

Thank you so much!

Artist and writer Andrew Dobell

Andrew Dobell

Andrew Dobell does great artwork if you want a cover for your book you want Andrew (Let us give you a hint. Andrew has done the cover for our upcoming Urban Fantasy anthology, but more about that later). He also is a talented writer so when he let us know that he had a brand new book out. And On SALE (BOOK 1 folks, New Prometheus on sale for 99c between 10th and the 14th May)!We jumped at the chance to feature him in one of our blogs.

Continue reading “Artist and writer Andrew Dobell”