Fiction Desert Trilogy

Teaser Tuesday – Excerpt from Desert Trilogy

Photo of sabre-toothed cat diorama
A typical day in Southern California during the Pleistocene. (Photo by La Brea Tar Pits,

Derek gasped, resisting the impulse to roll away from a mammoth lumbering at him, its curving tusks waving dangerously. The thundering of its tree-trunk-sized feet hurt his ears, and he could swear he felt the ground shake—or was that the Glass vibrating to give a sensurround effect? The beast crashed past him and headed off over the mud hills.

Except the barren hills were gone now, replaced with a rolling savanna of bunch grasses dotted here and there with shrubs and larger trees. South of him, the tamarisk-lined wash was now lush with trees: cottonwoods and palms and others he couldn’t identify. Ash and laurel were the others, Glass told him when he zoomed in.

He got to his feet, climbing to a low rise to get a better look. West, the package flickered out and showed nothing but the modern desert. East, the Pleistocene plain stretched to meet the stream at a narrow gap in the hills. A herd of small horses grazed out there, and were those camels? That made no sense. He began walking toward them. Just a quick look, and then he would head back with Graham and Lisa. He didn’t look forward to the awkward ride home in Graham’s Jeep.

“My god!” he breathed as he walked farther east. Whoever put this package together had done a fantastic job. The real desert faded almost to nothingness, just a bright glimmer out of the corner of the eye, where everything else was dark green along the stream, and a lighter green fading to yellow on the grassland. The images on the screen didn’t interfere with his movement, since they were laid perfectly over the topography. When he came to a mud hill, he saw a grass-covered slope in front of him. Only when he reached out to part the close-growing grasses did he remember that none of this was real.

Half an hour later, he still hadn’t come to the horses. They seemed to be moving away as he approached. The camels were there too, definitely camels, but huge. Gigantocamelus, Glass told him helpfully. Then the vision blurred as sweat dripped down from the headband of his hat into his eyes. When he took the Glass off to wipe the sweat away, the glare from the actual desert blinded him. He replaced the glasses quickly, returning to the gentler world of the Pleistocene.

That’s an excerpt from “Glass,” or, “How Augmented Reality can get you into trouble in the desert.” One of three stories forthcoming in Desert Trilogy, my chapbook of three short stories. You can pre-order it for only $0.99 as an ebook (price good through November 15th). More details here, and links to pre-order from your favorite ebook retailer are here

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