Published by Tor Books on November 7th 2017
THE NOVEL BASED ON THE DEBUT SCIENCE FICTION PODCAST FROM TOR LABS
Dakota “Dak” Prentiss guards the biggest secret in the world.
They call it “Moss.” It’s your standard grey alien from innumerable abduction stories. Moss still sits at what looks like the controls of the spaceship it crash-landed twenty-five years ago. A secret military base was built around the crash site to study both Moss and the dangerous technology it brought to Earth.
The day Matt Salem joins her security team, Dak’s whole world changes.
It’s love at first sight—which is a problem, since they both signed ironclad contracts before joining the base security team, vowing not to fraternize with other military personnel. If they run away, they’ll be hunted for the secret they know. So Dak and Matt decide to escape to a better life on the wings of an incredibly dangerous plan: They’re going to steal the alien body they’ve been guarding and sell the secret of its existence.
And they can’t afford a single mistake.
R IG H T B E F O R E I heard the guy’s collarbone break, I remembered a print hanging in my grandmother’s house. In the guest bathroom, written in an innocuous font over a pastel flower: “There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing joy on the face of a friend.”
My grandmother had obviously never thrown a guy twice her size across a room before.
Now, look, I’m not a violent person by nature. I don’t actually enjoy fighting. It stresses me out and makes me feel the bad kind of tingly for the rest of the day. But when a guy sidles up to you in one of only a handful of bars you have the option to patronize and his breath smells impossibly of socks and he leads with maybe the tritest pickup line in history, making it both annoying and insulting? Well, you make sacrifices.
“Excuse me,” he breathed, he exhumed, and if I’d had a force shield I would have deployed it. He tried again, his voice low and (snort) sensual. “Excuuuuse me.”
I made the mistake of responding. Not much—barely more than a sustained blink, not even looking in his direction—but he took it as leave to continue. It set him up for the clincher: “Was your daddy a thief?”
T HE T HIN G nobody tells you about the end of your life is sometimes you have so much damn longer to live afterward.
I’m talking days, weeks—hell, decades—from when your life ends until your body finally gets the message. In my case, my life ended the day after I threw this guy across the bar and I’ve been running ever since. I didn’t even get, like, a five-minute break to mourn.
And it’s all your fault, by the way.
Of course, I say my life ended that next day, but the truth is I’ve had difficulty pinning down the exact moment it happened. Believe me, I’ve tried. I really can’t help myself—I may not have been a scientist, but overthinking is something you catch hanging around them, like a disease.
When was the precise moment my hull breached, my engine failed, my horse went tits up? Was it when I looked at your bare chest and realized I could see your heartbeat? Maybe it was before then, that first handshake, looking into those eyes? Maybe it’s the most accurate to say my life ended the day I dropped everything and started working at Quill Marine in the first place, signing my life (and all my fraternization rights) away?
Yes? No? All of the above? Who fucking knows? Technically, it’s not the bullet that kills you, it’s the lack of oxygen to your brain due to the ruptured blood vessels, right? You parse some- thing long enough and it loses all meaning.
Except those eyes. If anything, the more I parsed those eyes, the more meaning they took on.
Anyway. Back to the guy at the bar.
Copyright © 2017 by Nat Cassidy
Nat Cassidy is an actor, director, musician, and playwright. He has appeared on shows such as The Following (Fox), The Affair (Showtime), Red Oaks (Amazon), High Maintenance (HBO), Law & Order: SVU (NBC), as well as on stage in numerous productions and workshops both Off- and Off-Off-Broadway. Nat’s plays have been nominated for a combined total of 17 New York Innovative Theatre Awards, including 3 times for Outstanding Full-Length Script (which he won in 2009, and in 2011 for Outstanding Solo Performance for his one man show about H.P. Lovecraft). In 2012 Nat was commissioned by The Kennedy Center to write the libretto for a world-premiere opera, and in 2014 his play Any Day Now was chosen to be part of Primary Stages’ ESPADrills (The Duke Theatre, directed by Tony-nominee Moritz von Stuelpnagel). He is also thrilled to be writing the novelization of Steal the Stars, which will be published by Tor Books in November 2017.
Mac Rogers is an award-winning audio dramatist and playwright. His audio/podcasts dramas The Message and LifeAfter have been downloaded over eight million times. His stageplays include The Honeycomb Trilogy (winner of the New York Innovative Theatre Award for Outstanding Premiere Production), Frankenstein Upstairs, God of Obsidian, Ligature Marks, Asymmetric, Viral, Universal Robots, Hail Satan (Outstanding Playwriting Winner at FringeNYC 2007), and Fleet Week: The Musical (co-written with Sean Williams and Jordana Williams; winner of Outstanding Musical at FringeNYC 2005). He has earned acclaim from The New York Times, The Guardian, Backstage, The Wall Street Journal, Time Out New York, New York Post, Flavorpill, io9, Fangoria, Tor.com, Show Business Weekly, New York Press, and many others.
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