Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Guest blog: Riley Perez

Hi, I’m Riley.  When you read the stories in the Tales from Atlantis series, you’ll be reading about me and my associates.  They are also friends, but I think associates sounds more professional.   The PTBs at Homeland Security don’t think the agents are DUE are nearly professional enough, but then, we’re not the kind of agents they’re used to dealing with.  Almost all of the agents at HSS are military, or were before they became agents.  Not a single DUE agent has ever been anywhere near the military.  What we are is preternatural.  This is also the reason DUE hired us, and well, you can’t have it both ways.

We take care of those things that the mundane agents can’t, which includes most cases involving supernaturals.  There are a surprising number of those cases, in spite of the fact that most people still deny that we exist, but as a result, our numbers are growing daily, and the Norms at HSS never quite know how to deal with us.  I figure that’s why they act like we’re either indestructible, or dispensable.  Current money in the office pool favors indestructible, but it goes back and forth.

History says this all started about two hundred years ago when some scavengers hauled off the stones on the Bimini Road.  When that happened, magic returned to the earth, and Atlantis rose.  Now, Atlantis sits out there in the Atlantic Ocean and for some reason, no one wants to go there.  Explain that!  I certainly can’t, but on the other hand, I have no desire to go there either, so I can’t fault anyone else for not wanting to go.  The thing is, after all the legend and myth surrounding Atlantis, it makes no sense that no one wants to go there.  However, that’s a topic for another day.  

Today, I just want to tell you about the case we’re working on in Digging Up the Past.  In this case, we’re trying to find a spade.  Yes, a shovel.  Sounds simple enough, right?  Well, this particular spade grants the holder immortality and can raise the dead, which makes it a bit more complex.  The file says it was headed here to be on display at the Smithsonian, but it never arrived.  The scientists on the dig where it was discovered have returned to Denton to their home university, and are working on a recent dig at the local lake.  A number of the other people on the dig are also at this site, so that’s where we’re going to start. 

No one can say exactly where the spade disappeared.  It left Peru like it was supposed to, but it was not there when the plane arrived in Washington. Our job is to figure out which one of these people took it.  The options are the Braden’s, the lead archeologists on the dig, the anthropologist Nick Manulito, Professor Jackson, who supervises the grad students, and the grad students themselves. Oh yeah, we have to find it before they get a chance to use it.


Just after midnight, I pulled up in front of the slightly rundown house near campus that the agency had rented for Jason and me. The adrenaline had worn off for me as well, but when I dragged myself through the door, it appeared that my luck was looking up. Jason was awake, and it smelled like the pizza was still hot. On the other hand, my odds of hot pizza are good most of the time with Jason around. Most of the time, he looks like your basic blond surfer, but he’s half demon, so he’s constantly hungry, and pizza’s his favorite food. Of course, he never gains an ounce. As a shape-shifter I do have a somewhat faster metabolism than most people, but my metabolism can’t hold a candle to Jason’s.
Oh yeah, in addition to being an empath, which means I can feel, and sometimes even see, the emotions of other people, and animals, technically, I’m also a shape-shifter, probably the only one in history who can’t actually change shape. If you think it sounds odd, try living it.
My folks were more than a little disappointed, but my maternal grandmother is a human mage, and she was ecstatic when my empathy and spell-casting ability showed up. That’s when she and my parents decided I would be spending summers and most vacations with her. My mom started out human too, and despite the fact that she and Dad never had a blood exchange of any kind, over time, she developed the ability to shift shapes. Our scientists are still puzzling over that one. After that, they’d just assumed that their children would also be shape-shifters. Functioning shape-shifters. My brother was. I couldn’t turn myself into anything, no matter how hard I tried.
“Hey,” Jason said when I walked in, sitting up from where he’d been stretched out on the faded couch. “You okay? You look beat. What happened?“
“Someone broke in at the Bradens’ house while I was out walking the dog,” I called over my shoulder as I circled through the kitchen, grabbed a paper plate, and pulled a bottle of water out of the fridge before collapsing in a chair. My chair, along with another semi-matching chair and the sofa, circled a TV that somehow seemed to be on sports no matter the time or day. I could sometimes commandeer it for the news, but not often. Jason is an equal opportunity sports fan. He watches them all.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Kid Stuff

When I was a kid, it was the 60s, the age of free love and drugs, and the worst things that were apt to happen were pregnancy or a bad trip.  We had maybe a third of the technology we have today, and a tenth of the luxuries.  People are fond of memories of having to actually get up to change the television channel, and having a phone with a cord on it that you couldn’t take with you, but what they’re really fond of, I think, is the sense of safety we had because we also had about a tenth of the dangers kids face today. 
Sure, bad things happened, even then.  I was nine when John Kennedy was killed, and it stunned the nation, but it wasn’t a personal danger.  It was danger on a national level.  We’d dealt with that before, and we’d won.  I guess when you think about how far technology has come, it’s no wonder really that the dangers involved have become greater as the world has gotten smaller.
When I was a kid, there were no internet stalkers because there was no internet; LSD was the only “designer drug,” and unprotected sex didn’t kill you. Kids didn’t take guns and bombs to school to kill each other, and no one had flown planes into the side of the World Trade Center.  I know, I know, it’s cliché to say it was a simpler time, but in many ways it’s the truth.  However, I can’t help but believe the separation caused by the lack of technology kept us innocent of many of the evils in the world. 
Evil had to work harder to get to us.  It could still get to us.  John Kennedy’s death, followed by the Manson murders and the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were proof of that, but it was a little more distant than it seems to be now.  Technology has brought wonderful advances and horrible knowledge.  All of those murders and the Vietnam War came into our homes through the miracle that was TV. 
How much more information is available today?  The information we have access to now has multiplied exponentially which makes us infinitely more knowledgeable, and infinitely more paranoid, and for good reason.  With that knowledge has come a terrifying awareness of how much evil there is in the world.  I’m not going to get into a discussion of nature versus nurture.  However it came to be, it presents itself as evil, so we’ll just leave it at that.
I have a grandson soon to be born, and knowing how much progress we’ve made in my lifetime, I cannot help but wonder how much more will happen during his life, and how we will survive further development of intellect without further development of spirituality/morality/decency.  I’m not Christian, so I’m not preaching go to church, live the way I say, blah, blah, blah, but somewhere in there, before technology becomes so prevalent that we no longer have any contact with each other, we have to develop the sense of right and wrong that is missing in so much of our world today.  Without it, there is no sense of connection to the world or to other people, and we will become truly dangerous to ourselves and our world.  We’re already headed that way.
We are the only ones who can make this difference, and unless we start now, for those who haven’t already, to reach out to those who need, and those who suffer, and those who hurt, it’s going to be a bleak future.  Think back to the future you envisioned as a child, and let’s all take one small step on the path to love of our fellow humans and rebuilding the world that reflects the dreams we had when we were young.


Book Links