Beta Readers

​Hey guys, this a call to arms, of sorts. I’m looking for a few folks who would like to be test subjects, if you will. I’m in need of some Beta readers for a set of stories I’m writing. I need people who are willing to read my stuff, for free, before anyone else has the opportunity. The downside, they may be a little rough, your job as a beta would be telling me what are the last few things I need to fix before I send the manuscript off to, Max, my editor. Please, if your interested in helping me out send me an emil to hughiegibsonwriter@gmail.com and I’ll explain more expectations, don’t worry, it isn’t hard work, if you can read and can be honest with me about my work you are perfect for this job. Like and share this post as well. I can use all the eyes I can get on these things.

Driver

Available at the end of the month is Driver. The next Pine Bluff Mysteries installment.

Tommy Waters is a down on his luck ex-con when his cousin convinces him to drive the getaway car in a bank robbery, but this easy job turns deadly when his partners are murdered and their stolen money disappears. He is forced to drive for the man he stole from in order to find the money and discover who murdered his friends.

Driver is a noir thrill ride of pure adrenaline and suspense.

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His Father’s Eyes

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His Father’s Eyes is a short story set in the Pine Bluff universe. Tony Corbett comes from a long line of Missouri lawmen but he is about to leave all that behind and run off the the Florida Keys. But just before the man sentenced to death for murder of Tony’s mother over 20 years ago is about to be executed skeletal remains are discovered near the home where his mother was last seen. Tony soon uncovers a conspiracy that casts doubt on his long held belief that his mother received justice and points to the unthinkable.

I’m giving this story away. It will be available at Barnes and Noble, Apple IBooks and many more.

Or you can download the format of your choice here. I hope you enjoy it. If you get it through an ebook site please leave an honest opinion of what you thought.

As Always, Thanks

Adrenaline: Gold Rush Part 5

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The upper middle class neighborhood of Coyote Village didn’t look the kind of neighborhood where a superhero would live. But that is exactly where one lived, Dr. Richard Thomas aka Dr. Indestructible.

Richard Thomas had been a noted bio-engineer who worked for Nash Industries when he was shot by a man he experimented on, he gave the man his sight and the man tried to take his life. Richard and my father were best friends and Gerald Nash gave him a new body, the real Six Million Dollar Man, more like six billion, but who is counting. Dr. Indestructible sat behind his kitchen table with his wife Mary and his two daughters. I sat across from him. Munching on carrots sauteed in brown butter we glared at each other. Something told me that if he had answered the door and not Mary I would still be out in the sedan with Eli munching on celery sticks. He didn’t speak, he only glared. After we finished our awkward dinner and Mary took the kids upstairs to get them ready for the evening, Richard showed me to his office. I had been here many times. Richard had been the one to take me under his wing when…when it happened.

“How could you?” I demanded.

“Do what Simon?”

“You know what. You killed my uncle.”

“I assure you I did no such thing.”

“You might as well have. Your little proteges did.” He rushed me placing his large had over my mouth and pushing me back hard against his study wall. His black eyes stared into mine, they blinked with lights inside them. I knew that Richard was in there somewhere but I really couldn’t be sure how much of him was real and how much of him was android.

“You will not speak of my life inside my home, you know the rules Simon and just because your uncle died doesn’t give you the right to break that sacred bound we had.”

He released me but I knew he would be on me in a second if I mentioned it again. But I had to. “I’m sorry, know that, but I have to know why they would want Uncle Ed dead.”

“It wasn’t them, I can promise you that.”

“I saw her knife, the one they are calling The Blur. Who are they Richard, tell me.”

“I will not, It is our bond, just as I will never tell your secret.” He sat down behind his desk.

“Do you remember why I came to you?”

“Russell.”

“And what did I tell you?” He asked.

“That you would die before you gave my secret.”

“That’s not the only time I’ve made that promise. You will never get it from me. Think about why you came to me, think about how we have ended up here. You will figure it all out. Trust me when I tell you that your origins are closer than you realize. You can show yourself out.” He said as he pointed to his study door.

Leaving Richards home and driving back to mine I couldn’t help but think of Russell.

*

We left The White House at two a.m. one summer night. After a few drinks I was feeling bulletproof. “When are we going back up? I cannot wait to jump again.” I said.

“Dude it’s your building, you tell me when,” he was along for the ride.

Being the best friend of a Billionaire surely had its perks but the truth was that I wouldn’t have had any other friend and Russell never wanted anything from me. I guess that always made me want to offer it more.

“There is something about the feeling of falling. The feeling just before you pull the cord that I can’t explain. When you going to jump with me?”

“Man that is your thing, I will continue to pick you up when you jump, but I’m not jumping from a building.” We laughed and hugged each other. He rubbed my head like I was his little brother and I had just done something to make him proud.

Screams suddenly filled the night air as we made our way through Sherman Park. We knew it was dangerous to walk through the park at night with the upsurge of violence lately, but it was one more thing for me to get an adrenaline rush from. Besides my father had paid extra police force lately to patrol the area. That however didn’t explain the scream.

High pitched shrills grew louder as we crossed a small creek and got to the heart of the park. Suddenly a rustle of leaves caught my attention to the right.

“Man I told you we shouldn’t have come this way.” He said.

“Oh don’t be a pansy.” I teased.

Screams echoed throughout the park and I bolted into the woods. I could hear the heavy foot of my friend running behind me then suddenly I heard nothing and saw nothing.

When I woke up I could feel a wet warm and sticky substance on my face. I pulled my hand across it lifted it to my face, crimson blood filled my fingertips.

“Russell,” I tried but I didn’t hear myself, the words were quietly falling out of my mouth. All I could hear was a piercing ringing in my ears. I must have been blindsided with a something. Someone must of hit me in the head.

“Russell, where are you?” I stood up and staggered around, searching the woods and the path where we had been but found nothing. I reached into my pocket for my phone to call the police but found only an empty pocket. Searching all my pockets revealed the same thing, I had been mugged.

After I crossed the small creek again it grew so dark that I couldn’t see. I stumbled over something, my foot dragging across something soft. I bent down to get a closer look and found myself staring right into the eyes of Russell, his dead blue eyes.

*

….yet another jewelery heist has led to the death of a Rosu Security Officer near the Boneyards in New Haven…CLICK…Rosu Security Officer stabbed in heist is only the latest death in the crime spree…CLICK….this marks the seventh Rosu Security Officer to be attacked in a crime spree officials are calling the worst the city has seen since Gerald Nash introduced his bill….CLICK…”they are going down, we will catch these criminals. And that is exactly what they are, just because Mr. Rosu has ran some less than ethical businesses in the past there is no evidence that this business is anything other than a legal up standing business.” That was Detective Henry Parker, the head of the new ‘Anti-vigilante task force set up by Mayor Natalie Blume…CLICK…

I find it disconcerting that everyone thinks that The Romanian has turned over a new leaf, this business is far from legal, it has to be a front for his extortion scheme, the one that most likely cost my uncle his life. He had nothing to do with Rosu other than he was just one more victim of his greed.

The funeral appears to be over,” Eli said as the few people that had came dispersed. I stepped out of the car and walked slowly through the falling leaves to the hole that held the box that held my uncle. My father hadn’t even came back for the funeral. He said he had too many things to finish up at the ranch.

I bent down and picked up a hand full of dirt and tossed it into the open grave.

“He was very proud of you.”

Her voice was sweet. I turned to see Katrina standing a few feet away leaning against a tree. Her blond hair blew in the autumn breeze and her short black skirt showed her firm legs. I had forgotten until now that Ed had told me that she used to be a gymnast in college. She was beautiful and her Eastern European genes showed on her small frame. She certainly was stunning.

“I know, I only wish I could have helped him.”

“You did your best Simon. He would have never blamed you for anything.”

I thanked her and was on my way. I was headed back to my car when I realized she would be without a job. What an odd thing to think. I couldn’t let that happen, he loved her like a daughter. I turned to her, I dug the keys out of my pocket and tossed them to her.

“What is this?” She asked.

“The White House.” I said.

“What about it?”

“He left it to me. I don’t want to work it, it’s yours, I don’t think I could step foot in there again.”

She tossed them back. “Me either, thank you though.”

“Will you be okay, money I mean?”

“I’ll make it.” She said.

I walked back to her and handed her my card. “My cell is on there, call me sometime, I mean if you ever find yourself needing a job.” She wrapped her long slender arms around my neck. Then a small framed woman walked up beside her.

“Simon, this is Allison Berry, my roommate.”

“And girlfriend,” Allison added casually.

“Oh, I had, I mean…” I stammered.

“It’s okay, really,” Katrina said.

We all parted ways and I went to my estate across The Coyote in the Hills.

*

Staring out my window onto the city I found it difficult to concentrate as my mind flowed from Ed to Russell to the vigilante’s and to Dr. Indestructible. What had he meant about our origins? How could I be remotely close to these women, these murderers, these thieves? I had to have answers and I had only one idea on how to get them. I had to ask them. The buttons beeped as I dialed the number from the card I held in my hand.

“Hello, I have reconsidered your offer.”

“Oh, well I’m glad you have come to your senses Mr. Nash, I will swing by your office tomorrow to work out the details. I’m sure this will be a fantastic working relationship.” His voice was like nails on a chalk board as I thought about sleeping with the enemy. But partnering with The Romanian seemed the only way to draw The Calico Cat and The Blur to me.

ADRENALINE: GOLD RUSH PART 4

Time grinds to a stop when your bored. I really hate sitting behind this desk and pretending to care what goes on in the floors below me. Truth be told I have no idea what is even going on anymore. All I can focus on is the two women in the street a couple days ago. They were good, green, but good.   

I looked up from my computer to see Tyler Dixon, CEO of Nash Industries, standing in my door. His shirt pulled tight and tucked into his pants with his large belly hanging over his belt. Once Dad left, my first order of business was to make a no dress code rule, business casual, I hate wearing suits.   

“You have a visitor, Chrisof Rosu.”   

Oh, I know the name, Mafia Don Chrisof Rosu is very well known in New Haven and a major opponent of my fathers efforts to clean up the city. His real name is not nearly as well known as his alter ego however, The Romanian.   

“I really don’t have time for him.”   

“Well you really don’t have a choice.” Mr. Rosu staggers around Tyler Dixon and waltzes into my office and pulls up a seat in front of me before I can say anything.   

“I heard about your father retiring, wish him a congratulations for me the next time you speak to him.” I do not respond to him. “However, I am here on a business call rather a social one. I would like to talk to you about using my company, Rosu Security, for all your security needs.”   

Blood flowed to my face setting it afire, my blood pressure shooting through the roof. I glance at my wrist watch and check my pulse. Seventy and rising.    “You have some nerve walking into my office after the hell you put my father through offering to ‘secure’ my buildings, are you out of your mind? I will not even dignify that request with an answer. Please show yourself out of my building Mr. Rosu.”   

“Very well Mr. Nash, but I am sincere about your father, please tell him for me.” He stood and tossed a card on my desk, “In case you change your mind.”    Tyler Dixon stood watching through the door. As Christof passed him, his eyes darted to the floor.   

                *      *     *     *    *

….witnesses claim the two masked perpetrators attacked the security guards around twelve a.m. this morning taking them by surprise. They made off with an estimated two hundred thousand dollars in jewelry and cash. They wore matching blue ‘costumes’ and blue masks covering their eyes. They are considered armed and dangerous. Police are urging citizens to stay clear of the two….    

Clicking off the t.v. I had heard enough. I knew the two women in the video surveillance photo’s they placed on the screen, although I didn’t really like the two names they gave them, I really don’t understand media given names sometimes. That is why I had picked my own and let them know. Calico Cat and Blur seemed to be a lot better than the last time I had laid eyes on them.   

Light from my phone lit up the office. I rarely leave work anymore because of all the stuff I have to do as a real job, one that pays the bills, the one that puts food on a lot of people’s tables. I contemplated ignoring it until saw it was from The White House. Not that White House but my uncles bar. I hadn’t been to see him in months and I’m sure is worried about me. Truth is I was worried about him as well.   

“Yes,” I didn’t mean for it to sound so short.   

“Hello, I am calling for Simon Nash,” it was a female voice I didn’t recognize.    “This is he.”   

“I didn’t know who else to call.”   

“What is wrong?”   

“Can you come to the bar?”   

“I’ll be right there.”   

The beeped and the light went out as I turned it off. I turned off my computer and was in my car in a matter of seconds. What was going on? What could possibly be so important that Uncle Ed would have a server call me?

    *    *    *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Eli La Croix pulled the car to a stop a couple blocks from The White House. He had no choice, police cars lined the streets ahead and the unofficial entrance into Haven Village, was blocked by street barricades and yellow tape. A police office walked up to the window and my driver lowered it.   

“We are sorry but those two psychopaths are tearing up Haven Village.”   

“We need to get over to The White House,” Eli said. “The owner called my boss who is his nephew, he is worried about him.”   

“Go around, up Grand and come in from behind, there shouldn’t be anyone up there.”   

“Thank you, Officer,” Eli said rolling the window up again.   

It took us a little longer to get there but as we pulled up to the bar I jumped out before Eli had the car in park. I was in the bar before Eli was out of the car. I was at the bar before Eli was to the door. I was the first to see him laying on the bar, a knife in his chest. His had clutching a snub nose revolver as it hung limp over the bar. Eli was at my back grabbing me as I tried to get to my uncle. The one man I truly thought of as a father. Blood pooled beneath him and soaked the hard wood bar as it mixed with spilled beer and cigarette ashes.    “Simon we need to go back outside and call the police,” Eli said.   

I knew he was right, I knew that I didn’t need to compromise any evidence that be left behind so I scanned the small bar as quickly as could without moving. It appears to be a burglary gone wrong. His register drawer stood open, no money inside but a trail to the door, he probably drew his gun and fired at the men, firing because near the front door there were two bullet holes in the large storefront windows. Also near the front door, on the bare concrete floor lay two drops of blood.   

Lights and sirens quickly filled the window and it felt like slow motion as the police officer came through the door, we drew his weapon and badge, I could see his mouth moving but I heard nothing, my mind flooding with images of my Uncle standing behind that bar, the one place he truly loved to be.   

I turned slowly and looked one more time at the knife sticking out of my uncles chest, I knew that knife, I had seen it before. It belonged to Blur.   

“Mr. Nash, my name is Detective Henry Parker, I work for the NHPD, I am going to have to ask you to step outside.” He ushered me to the door as the CSI guys came in and started putting numbered cones down and flashing pictures of the scene. I didn’t need photographs, the images would be burned into my memory forever.   

Sitting outside in the cool autumn night I couldn’t help but wonder why would they want Edward White dead? Why did they want to rob him? They had been hitting high end jewelry shops and art galleries. Not small time bars on the north end of Haven Village, they couldn’t have gotten more than a hundred dollars from his register.    There was only one man that I knew could help me, and I knew exactly how to get him.

ADRENALINE: Gold Rush Part 3

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In the weeks that followed Edward and Katrina had been visited by the goons on several occasions finally forcing him to concede and take the ‘protection’. I sat across White’s on the roof of Mia Bella, a swanky Italian restaurant that all the movers and shakers liked to patronize.   

Unfortunately I wasn’t here for a social call, I was here to watch the goons that had entered my uncles bar twenty minutes ago. Suddenly I got a feel of eyes on me, studying me as heavily as I studied the goons.   

Then I heard the soft steps of a familiar foot. Dr. Indestructible knelt beside me, his voice soft and comforting. He placed his hand on my shoulder and let out a sigh. 

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“You watching over your friends I see.”    “Someone has to.”   

“They’re heating up again. With Gerald gone they feel they have free reign and with the police failing at every turn they may just be right.”   

“I can’t let that happen.”   

“You can stop anytime, Adrenaline. You only got into this for the rush, remember?”   

Too bad he had a point, I had only gotten into this for the rush, the thrill, the high that I got from the adrenaline rush that came from vigilantism. I was nothing like the good Dr., he had to do this, compelled by an inner drive that I wasn’t about to try to understand.

Dr. Indestructible had been the first ‘superhero’ I had heard of in New Haven. He patrolled the streets at night with an iron fist and the respect of the city.  Unfortunately he went too far one day and had to begin to fly under the radar after a goon for a local Italian Mafia family pulled a gun on him and he pulled the mans throat of his neck. Caught on camera Dr. Indestructible became what he fought so hard to destroy. I knew he hadn’t had a choice but the incident became a public relations nightmare.   

“Yeah but things have changed.”   

“That was your handy work in Mexico wasn’t it?”   

“You could tell?”   

“Why didn’t you ask for my help?”   

“I had to do it alone.”   

“Yeah you’ve changed.” He nodded to the bar, “how many men in there?”

“Two.”   

“Piece of cake,” he said.   

His black hood hung over his full black mask and his black gee made him look like a ninja assassin perched beside me. I on the other hand stood out like a sore thumb, blue jeans, a dark grey hoody and a white blood stained hockey mask. My knifes sheathed at my thighs and my gun on the small of my back. I reached for the Kali Sticks that crossed my back as the door to Whites opened and two beefy goons exited counting a stack of cash. The Dr and I stood ready to leap the two stories onto them when suddenly out of the dark alley just below us two figures bolted toward the men.   

One held a sword and the other two small knifes about six inches in length. The one with the knifes moved like lightening, her feet peddling underneath her, in one quick leap she was atop a small car and she bounced to the side of a van with her right foot, she spun in a twist of the body and landed on her feet just inches in front the two men. The girl with the sword strutted up behind the two stunned men.   

“Give us the money,” the one with the knife says.   

The two men laughed and stuffed the money into their pockets. “Yeah, I don’t think that’s going to happen.” One of the goons, the one that put the gun to the back of my head swung his fist wildly and connected with knife girl’s face which sendt her flying into a cargo van. The alarm began ringing, echoing off the surrounding buildings.   

I started to leap when my friend placed his hand on my chest, holding me back like a mother places her hand across a child when a car comes to a sudden stop. He shakes his head at me. “I think they have it under control.”   

Sword girl swung her weapon landing it behind the mans knees. He screamed out in pain as his body collapsed to the sidewalk. The goon who followed Katrina outside that night turned and raised his hand. A black Colt 1911pointed at her. He pulled the trigger and I could see her chest explode with a burst of power. She flew into the building behind her with the force of an erupting sun. Her head slammed into the brick wall, and she slid down nearly lifeless.   

“It doesn’t appear that they have it under control.” I stood and leaped from the edge of the building landing flat footed onto the roof of a semi truck parked below. Taking another leap I landed about ten feet from the scuffle. Knife girl keyed up and pulled her two knifes, she darted for the shooter, taking a running jump along the brick wall she kicks off into a somersault in the air. Thrusting the knifes downward they bury deep into both sides of the shooters neck. The gun slid slowly from his hand landing with a thud on the ground.   

A rustling turned my attention to the sword girl, her chest held the slug from the shot. I look up toward the Dr. who stood staring, watching like a father lion witnessing his cubs taking down their first antelope. Sword girl stood in her dark blue costume, long blond hair flowing behind her in the breeze and a blue mask covering her eyes. She stepped slow and deliberate, taunting the attacker. She raised her sword above her shoulder, pointing toward his groin. Swiftly with the force of a train, she sliced and blood poured from his leg. His body shivered as he laid on the sidewalk. She severed his femoral artery, he’ll be dead shortly.   

The two women in their matching costumes jet off into the dark, I looked back up at Dr. Indestructible, but he was no longer perched atop the building. The night which had quickly grown silent was broken by the sound of sirens. I decided it best to leave.

Adrenaline : Gold Rush Part 2

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Eli pulled the black sedan to a stop outside of an old warehouse on Euclid in Haven Village. Haven Village was once the industrial epicenter of New Haven. After the industries moved across the river to be closer to the Boneyards (the warehouse and shipping district of the city) the area fell into decay and disrepair. After my father planned the reconstruction of the city Nash Industries offered businesses the opportunity to move to the area at a cheap rate and were offered tax breaks by the local government in order to revitalize the neighborhood. This prompted a rise in the theater and arts, restaurant and nightlife in the area and it turned into the cultural center of the city. I stepped out of the sedan and onto the sidewalk, my foot landing on the damp concrete. Leaning back in I told Eli there was no need to wait on me I would be awhile and would get a cab home.

Taillights disappeared into the dark as I stepped into a little bar that I enjoyed frequenting, The White House. Edward White stood behind the bar drying out a bourbon glass. His long gray hair pulled back into a tight ponytail and his white beard hung to his chest. He wore a vintage Rolling Stones T-shirt and pair of blue jeans. His bar wasn’t a dive but it wasn’t high class either. Few people visited Whites but the ones that did were regulars and Edward knew everyone of them. He sat a bourbon glass on the bar as I pulled up a stool.

“I was expecting you,” he said. His voice was rough like he gargled pea gravel every morning. “Usual? ”

I threw my overcoat over the back of the stool and sat down. “You know what, I think I will have a beer tonight as well.” I downed the bourbon as he pulled a bottle from the cooler and twisted the top. “How’s things been going?”

“Okay, same ol’ same ol’. Business has been steady.”

I turn the beer up and drink  it half down in one giant chug. Katrina steps up behind me and asks Edward for a couple beers.

“Hello Simon,” she says. I can sense some hesitation in her voice. A nervousness that I don’t place immediately.

He hands her the beers and Katrina bounces off. Her red ponytail bobbing back and forth as she makes her way to a table. I haven’t seen the guys in here before.

“What is up with her?”

“These guys have been in here the past four nights and they are giving her the willies if you know what I mean.”

I did, “Have you asked them to leave?”

“I can’t, they are Rosu’s men.”

I knew of Rosu, Christoph Rosu, the head of the Romanian crime family and real nasty piece. After the reconstruction the police force was doubled and the mafia in New Haven all but ran out of town. Only recently a few rogue groups have since grown into power and began testing the limits of the law and authority in the city. The meanest of these were the Romanian Mafia, formally known as the Gypsies.

“So?”

“They keep wanting me to take their protection, for a fee of course.” “Seems to me you don’t need any protection, that is what the law is for.”

“Try telling that to them, Ever since your father announced his retirement the mobs have been making moves. They think with him out of the city things will start going back to ‘normal’.”

As I guzzle down the last of the beer Edward puts another in front of me, “I’m sorry to hear about Sarah, I wish that the Mexican government could have done more or gotten there sooner.”

“Yeah, me too.”

“Listen Simon, if you need to talk to someone I’m here,”

Edward placed his hand on my hand and squeezed. He has always had large hands. As a child he would place those large hands over mine and as I had gotten older I expected them to get smaller but they hadn’t, its like they grew as mine grew.

Regina White had been his sister and my mother. Uncle Edward has always been there for me, after my mother died two years ago he pulled me from the gutter outside of this bar and took me to his house. As much as he hurt himself his concern was my my wellbeing. He wouldn’t tell my father where I was hiding. My protector, my gaurdian. I wished there was something I could do to return the favor.

Katrina bounced back toward the bar, her green eyes glowing in the dim light of the bar. “Edward, I have an emergency, is it okay if I go, its just those two guys and my shift is over anyway.”

“Sure dear, be careful going home, okay.”

“You know I will,” she leaned across the bar and gave him a peck on the cheek.

In a second she had her jacket and was out the front door. The two men stood, one following her and the other coming toward the bar. He stood behind me and placed his strong hands on my shoulders, I could feel his tenseness. He slammed my face into the bar and pulled a pistol from his pocket. Then he  placed the barrel to the back of my head.

“I wouldn’t move from that stool if I were you,” his eastern European accent was thick and barely understandable, but I got the gist. “Listen carefully to me old man, if you do not take the protection I will make sure that everyone you care about suffers. Even Mr. Pretty Boy here. I saw you on the t.v. standing next to your father man thees afernoon. Don’t think you are going to follow in his footsteps, we are taking back our city.” He pushed the barrel harder onto the back of my head.
My fists clenched as I could hear Katrina scream, her shrills echoing off the old brick buildings. My eyes darted as I saw Uncle Edward’s hand sliding under the bar, I knew he kept a sawed off shotgun under there, Ol’ Susy he called it. I just hoped he wised up and left her under there.

The goon turned and walked toward the door, the sound of his heavy footsteps growing quieter as he reached the door. I looked and Edward who looked at me and I gently shook my head and mouthed the words, ‘not now’.

Edward pulled his hand back as the door slammed shut and the screams of Katrina quieted. The sound of a loud sports car drowned out anything else in the city. Blood poured out of my nose and soaked my white shirt and blue tie. I turned and to my surprise a battered Katrina staggered through the door and collapsed to the floor.
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Should writers use concept art?

Working on a project like the Adrenaline series has made me think a little about concept art. When I’m writing a crime drama like A New Man or some of the other stories set in the Pine Bluff universe it is fairly easy for me to visualize what I want a character to look like. For the most part it is a “real world” story and I see folks like I picture in the stories on a daily basis.

However, with a story like the Adrenaline series and the Perfect 200 series I have a harder time keeping hold of an idea of what the characters should look like. I know how they act and their emotional drives and goals but their looks, which may or may not play a role in the story, seems slip away at times. That is why I decided to try something new for me as a writer. I wanted concept art of the characters near me when I’m writing so I can get a feel for the characters, or to get inside what they are thinking and I thought that a picture of the character would help.

But where do I get a photo of a vigilante super hero with tracking down an artist? Two problems, 1 I couldn’t afford to pay one if I found one, 2 what ever concept they came up would still be their vision.

I thought about trying it myself but I have NO artistic ability, I couldn’t draw a straight line if I had to. Then I thought about photoshop. However, I am on the go a lot and I only get time here and there to work on either stories or the artwork. I found two apps that work pretty well I think. Check out this concept art of Adrenaline.  I will show the progression and let me know what you think.

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First I found this picture on a free stock photo site, I do not advocate stealing artwork and they offer free stock photos for non commercial use as long as you manipulate it in some way, which I am doing. I am only posting the original to show the project from start to finish.

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Next I found this one.

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Next I cut around the mask to get rid of the black sheet on which the mask is laying.

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Then I brought the photo into an editing app and added shadows and dirt and a little more blood splatter and saved it.

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Next brought the first picture back into the same photo editing app.

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I double exposed the mask over the mans face, softened the edges, added a few more shadows and a key light, and finally added a hint of smoke. I wish I could have softened the edge on the bottom of the mask in the chin area, but it isn’t bad. (Note 100% of this project was done on my mobile phone)

All in all it took about 90 minutes of total time.

I haven’t tested it in the writing process yet. I have completed Adrenaline: Gold Rush (read part one if you havent, rest will be up soon), and at the moment I am working on a couple other projects but I have several more stories planned for that universe.

So please let me know what you think. Do you like it, not like it? Would this benefit you as a writer or is the 90 minutes better spent on actual writing?

Apps I used
*pixlr (photo editor)
*edge tracer (removes unwanted areas from photo)

A decent site of free photos is morguefile.com

Adrenaline: Gold Rush Part 1

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The sting of the cold wind slaps against my face as I hit terminal velocity (it is a big long complicated equation but believe me when I say it is 120 mph) is when I feel the most alive. Falling with nothing between me and the earth but air and fear. My gloved finger tickles the rip cord, I am afraid, but not of falling or dying, or even worse, living, if I were to survive a hi​t to the ground or the side of the mountainp. No, I am afraid that I will pull the cord before I get a few more seconds of freedom and loose the feeling that I have right now, that feeling of excitement and fear and adrenaline all pumping through my veins.

Racing toward the mountain at 120 mph I have zero room for error. One centimeter too low and I might clip the mountain, one centimeter high and I might over shoot my target and that would be just as bad. With my arms pinned to my side and my legs together I shoot through the air like a bullet aimed at a target. The aerodynamics of my body allow me to build that speed to terminal. Suddenly I push my arms and legs against the force of the wind to spread them out to make a falling X. Thin sheets of fabric shoot from between my legs and under my arms connected to my side. I look like a flying squirrel. My “Wingsuit” blends with the black night sky as I glide in, still flying at roughly 100 mph I raise my body to create more drag and in turn slows me down. I did this for two reasons, one, I don’t want to pull my chute if I don’t have to, and 2, hitting one of those bastards is going to hurt bad enough I don’t want to hit him at 120 mph.

The wind grabbed the suit and my fall slows slightly and I could see the house atop the mountain about a mile away, doing a quick calculation in my head I should be right on target. As I glide closer I could see three flashlight beams surveying the area, two in the front of the house and one in the back. I should miss the roof by inches and be on target for the stationary flashlight in the back. He stands still, waving the light in a wide arc back and forth.

I came in just as I had planned, narrowly missing the red clay shingled roof top of the two story Mexican Villa. I pull my chute and slow drastically, but not enough to land, lifting my legs I outstretch them as my legs connect with the guards back. His flashlight goes flying across the back of the compound but he lies on the ground and never made a sound. I pull back on the handles and slow more, releasing and dropping to the ground my chute continues its descent down the mountain until it tangles in a tree.

 Checking my pulse I noticed its 70, a little high, my wingsuit hits the ground as I peel it off next to the body of the guard, I think he’s alive but I can guarantee he will never walk again. I felt his spine crack the second my boot connected. I have two more to take care of around front or I could head in through the back, the way I see it the less guns I have to deal with later the better. I might as well take them out while I have the upper hand.

A bag I carry on my back held my all my life support essentials, gun (I don’t use unless I have to, not that I have anything against guns I just prefer stealth), two fixed blade knifes about seven inches long and two Kali Sticks (black batons). I slide the knifes into their homes in the sheaths on my legs and place the gun in its holster on the small of my back. The Kali Sticks, they rest comfortably in my hands.

The Alvarez Drug Cartel is housed in this Villa which Diego Alvarez stole from the Medina family. No I am not Military, Enrique Medina happens to be a very good friend of the family and I decided that I would take care of his little problem, also Enrique’s beautiful young daughter is being held in an upstairs bedroom of the home. Sure the Mexican Police should be in charge of getting it back but with all the gun power and the corruption in the police force there they were having a hard time.

Do I think of myself as a vigilante, sure, but do I think I am doing anything wrong? At times, but at times not, who would help these people if I didn’t. Plus I have that little phobia problem.

As the light of one of flashlights comes within inches of my face I quietly charge one of the guards and with a left and right and the left uppercut of the Kali sticks the guard went down with a hard thud. My eyes quickly surveyed the scene and I realized that I have lost sight of the third guard and I no longer see his flashlight beam. Then I knew where he was the instant the barrel of the gun touched the back of my head.

He chattered something in Spanish that I can vaguely discern as “I have an intruder,” and then he got a reply from a hand held radio that tells him to bring me into the house. “Drop the sticks,” he said in his native tongue.

I did as I was told and the metal batons clank as they hit the concrete walk. Then he taps my knifes and I do the same, next he pulls the gun from my back and I don’t hear it hit the ground, must have kept it.

The long walk into the center of the house with a gun to the back of your head isn’t as fun as it sounds. Large Oak doors that stood on the south side of the central courtyard I recognize as Mr. Medina’s office, I guess Diego has taking that over as well.

The large Oak doors slid open revealing two armed men and a Senor Diego Alvarez sitting behind a large pine desk, it was stained blond and matched the cream stucco color of the walls, unfortunately the cream walls had bright red splatters. Too many men, and probably women, have lost their lives in this room. Hopefully little Sarah was still alive upstairs.

“Well what is this Halloween? Because you don’t look like you are a Lucha Libre.”

“You referring to my mask Senor Alvarez?”

“This hardly seems fair now does it? You know who I am but I have no idea who you are?”

“My name is Adrenaline,” I said

The room roared with laughter.

“I guess you are here for the bounty on my head. Ever since my home land has betrayed me and placed a price tag on my head I have had to deal with vigilante’s like you. But you see all those blood and brains on the walls. That is all that is left of the ‘vigilante’s’ that have tried to take me in. Kill him.” He says with the wave of a hand.

“Wait,” I said. “I’m not like those other vigilantes.”

“Oh, how is that?”

“I don’t care about the money. As a matter of fact I’m not even claiming it. I don’t like money, and I have more than I know what to do with now. You see I’m going to kill you and take this house back and give that little girl upstairs back to her father.”

“Oh, she isn’t a little girl anymore.”

Again the room explodes in laughter, and I take the opportunity to duck down and swivel around, sweeping the leg of a goon. I grab the gun from the man that was holding me hostage who now lays curled in the fetal position and pull the trigger placing a bullet between his eyes. I find my gun tucked in the front of his pants. I raise both arms out like I’m hanging on a cross and pull the triggers taking out the two armed guards. I quickly turned the guns on Diego and to my surprise he has pulled a sawed off shotgun from under the desk and raised it on me.

As I stared down the barrel of the shotgun I wonder how I’m getting out of this one. I see his finger the trigger. “I guess your just another stain on the wall.”

I can hear footsteps running up behind me and I dive to the right and close to the door just as he fires right into the gut of the one of his henchmen. I scurry through the blood soaked floor and out into the courtyard. Up to the left on the second floor a pretty young girl wondered out onto the balcony eying all the commotion going on downstairs. Her thin silky night gown clung to her dark skin. She is as beautiful as the day I met her, I remember spending several weekends with her at our ranch in southern Texas and my heart pounds at the sight of her. I check my pulse 81, getting higher, but I have to get her out of this nightmare.

“Sarah,” I yell. She jumped, startled by the sudden eruption of gunfire again. Two guards begin shooting in my direction and I bolted for the stairs to try to get to Sarah. I fire the guns at the guards coming down the stairs and take out kneecaps and bodies fall all around me. Sarah turns toward me but seems as scared by my appearance as she does her captors.

Her white nightgown explodes in red and she clenches her stomach and she falls to the floor of the balcony.

“No,” I scream as I dart for her. I rip off my mask and she looks into my eyes.

“Simon?”

“Yes.”

“Am I going to be alright?”

“Yes, I promise.”

“I wouldn’t make promises you can’t keep,” Diego’s voice came from above me.

I looked up and the barrel of the shotgun sat pointed at my forehead. With movement like lightening I move my head to the right and grab him by the wrist and twist the gun from his hand. I turn it on him and pull the trigger, landing the shotgun blast in his chest. He stumbles backwards and over the railing.

I pulled Sarah into her room and close the door as I hear sirens filling the rising dawn. I kiss her on the forehead as she struggles to breathe.

“I have always loved you.

“I have always loved you too. I wish things had been different.”

“Thank you for…” her voice trails off and I can hear her last breath escape her lungs.

I am holding her head in my lap crying as the Mexican Police bust in, guns drawn.

*

Paying off the Mexican Police to forget that I was there hadn’t been a problem. In fact it had been easy, one could say that it had been their idea to keep the reward on Senor Alvarez. After they had seen my handy work they determined that it was in their best interest to let me walk out of the country a free man, and with all of my body parts that I had entered with.

New Haven, my home, felt empty now. I had planned to bring Sarah back with me but…anyway. New Haven once was a dark bleak place and I had hoped that her light would brighten it just a little more. I stood in my office atop Commerce Tower in the Nash Industries Vice President office looking out over The Coyote and down at my city. Looking out over the river I became lost in the skyline and it should give me great pleasure, it should send waves of pride pulsing through my bones. I should look down on her in amazement at how one man was able to drag it out of the gutter and polish her until she shined.  How he took this decrepit city and revived it into a commercial and artistic center of this country. I should be proud because that man was my father.

Gerald Nash stood behind me with his hand upon my shoulder, “It is your city now son. I am not only leaving Nash Industries in your hands, but New Haven as well. It is your city to guard and protect.”

“I can’t do what you have done, sir.”

“I only ask that you protect what I have done, but I have no doubt you will make your own mark on her as well.”

He patted my shoulder and left the office. He would be on a plane to Texas within the hour and Nash Industries would be my responsibility. But first I needed a drink.