Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sample Sunday: "Really Wild Things"

Welcome to Sample Sunday, where we authors give you a taste of our work. Here's another excerpt from my free Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy novel, Really Wild Things.

When it comes to the subject of clams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has this to say: they don't get any better than the Five-Tailed Whirlwind Ultra-Clam on the third moon of Llullul in the Inner Northern arm of the Galaxy. Of course, this is a disputed claim, partly because tastes vary from one being to another, but mainly because only one man has ever actually tasted the Five-Tailed Whirlwind Ultra-Clam and so we only have his word to go on. But that man is Noslenda Bivenda, undisputed as the Galaxy's Greatest Clam Opener, so his vote carries tremendous weight.

The reason that no one else has ever tasted the Five-Tailed Whirlwind Ultra-clam is that it is virtually impossible to open. The word "virtually" is a recent addition. Prior to Noslenda's success, the Guide simply stated that the Ultra-Clam was impossible to open.

Noslenda Bivenda's reputation as the Galaxy's Greatest Clam Opener was gained by accident during a night out with his mates at a local restaurant. At the time, Bivenda was only a trash hauler on N'rdikka Eight who enjoyed the occasional clam and was quite clever in ways no one had yet suspected. The restaurant had a standing offer of a free round of drinks to anyone who could find a new way to open the Blue-Speckled Spiked Mega-Clam of Rion Four, thought at the time to be the fifth hardest clam to open in the Galaxy. The old way involved a screwdriver, a hyper-ion vibrator, and a small neutron star. Due to the extraordinary flavour and the effort involved in opening them, the Blue-Speckled Spiked Mega-Clam was an expensive luxury.

Bivenda had a revelation in that moment; how he could open the Blue-Speckled Spiked Mega-Clam in a way that required only a proton hammer and good aim. Bivenda did indeed open the clam and win a free round of drinks that night, which was all he really wanted, but the restaurant announced his wholly new and extraordinary discovery to the Galaxy. Within hours, the price of Blue-Speckled Spiked Mega-Clams fell dramatically and the name Noslenda Bivenda became a legend among the stars.

A Sub-Etha news channel picked up the story by hiring Bivenda to find a way to open the Red Dragon-Mottled Fire Clam of the Kalliblan Nebula, the fourth hardest clam to open in the Galaxy. Bivenda spent three hours with the clam before he emerged with butter-stained fingers and a new technique.

After that, Bivenda began a quest to sample every clam in the Galaxy. He went to the trinary star system of Xoppi to open the Inverted Horn Proton Clam, the third hardest clam in the Galaxy, then to Spluggugga Twelve to crack the Metallic Titanic Corkscrew Mega-Mussle, the second hardest clam in the Galaxy. By that time, Bivenda was both wealthy and famous, hailed by the Galaxy as a genius and a connoisseur. At that level, his techniques required such skill and dexterity that only Bivenda could even carry them out. Bivenda had sampled clams so exquisite that only a handful had ever enjoyed them in their entire lives. Yet he became obsessed with his greatest and final challenge; the Five-Tailed Whirlwind Ultra-Clam on the third moon of Llullul in the Inner Northern Arm of the Galaxy. It was said at that time that no one could ever open it, but that even if they had, its flesh was so incredibly delicious that no one could eat it and survive. That was a challenge that Bivenda could not resist.

The third moon on Llullul is a violent and brutal world, inhospitable to most forms of life. The planet consists mainly of boiling oceans of highly corrosive acid. The surface temperature is hot enough to melt ultrasteel within seconds. The only other creature besides the Five-Tailed Whirlwind Ultra-Clam that can exist in those oceans is the Elongated Voracious Narwhal, an enormous armour-plated sea beast that can bite through diamonds and swallow molten lava. As a result, the Ultra-Clam evolved a hard shell completely sealed from the outside world, constructed of the strongest substance in the known Universe.

It was a day of celebration on his home world as Bivenda boarded his private starship bound for Llullul, but Bivenda moved with a heavy heart. This, indeed, would be his greatest challenge. He traveled across the Galaxy, parked his ship in orbit, and rode a heavily armoured shuttle that plunged down to the ocean. Lights flickered on the shuttle to pierce the rolling waves. Even the onboard computer was nervous as it navigated the seas, trying to avoid the attention of the Elongated Voracious Narwhals that drifted by. Bivenda stayed in the back of the shuttle, studying biological records on the Ultra-Clam, trying to find the secret of opening it. When his shuttle finally located an Ultra-Clam on the ocean floor, it sat and waited. And waited. And waited.

The Galaxy waited as well, tuned onto Bivenda's Sub-Etha channel, waiting for word. Hours passed, then days, then weeks.

It was a full year before a single sound traveled over the Sub-Etha, but when that sound came, it electrified the Galaxy. That sound was Bivenda saying six simple words: "I've done it. It’s the best."

The news crews rushed to Llullul to interview him, but Bivenda was nowhere to be found. Bivenda was not on the planet or any of its moons. His starship still orbited, empty and silent, except for the computer that suffered post-traumatic stress syndrome.

The mystery of whatever happened to Noslenda Bivenda remained just that; a mystery. Some speculated that Bivenda had lied, failed to open the Ultra-Clam, and hid himself in disgrace. Others believed that Bivenda had succeeded and exploded in delight from the taste of the Ultra-Clam as some had predicted. Still others believed Bivenda's shuttle was eaten by an Elongated Voracious Narwhal. Still others believed Bivenda was assassinated by seafood companies threatened by the enormous drop in clam prices caused by his new techniques.

If you liked the sample, you can download the full novel for free. Go here for more details.

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