THIS POST IS NOW PART OF
Note: Nov. 11, 2012, is the first anniversary of my first publication, which happened to be "Monster Is in the Eye of the Beholder," so I thought I would resurrect this text sample. I'm having a 99-cent special on the novella right now (Kindle and Smashwords), and you can get a free Smashwords copy on Sunday and Monday (Nov. 11 and 12). Go here for information on how to do that!
So here it is -- a short piece of "Monster Is in the Eye of the Beholder" that may function slightly as a spoiler, but not too much:
Continued (late evening, LPT): [i.e. Local Planetary Time]
It was already dark when we landed at a small spaceport of Chu-sneian construction and so we went straight to a guesthouse for the night. We are near a diminutive city called Hala-ana (we could see a small cluster of lights twinkling as we came in), but there was not a Kal in sight, much to our disappointment. Tor says their leader, called the Chief Communicator, prefers to meet with us in the morning.
Continued, 1st full day on Kal-fa (late evening):
If I were religious, I might throw a few prayers at a couple of alien deities! I thought I was beyond astonishment – after all, what can top the Shshi Queen or the inner sanctum of the Etúmanoi? – but even those didn’t prepare me for this! That woman Tor was playing with us – oh, yes! The joke was definitely on us!
But I must start at the beginning so that I can make sense of this afterwards. Hala-ana consists of a grouping of some twenty sprawling, one-story stone buildings covered with intricate abstract carvings. We approached the central edifice, which (Tor informed us) houses both living quarters and the government offices, through an extensive and delightful semi-tropical garden – a xenobotanist’s dream! It seemed deserted, although we heard some rustling and thumps in the bushes and caught some glimpses of movement or form through the foliage. Tor remarked that the Kal were shy around strangers. We entered through a wooden door and found ourselves in a corridor about four or five meters wide, with a floor of polished stone tiles, blue painted walls, and gilded carved floral cornices. Narrow tables lined the right side.
Then simultaneously we all jumped. On one of the tables something was moving. It was an arm – an arm, shoulder to hand, resting on its upper portion, with a pad of silken cloth covering the elbow, four bracelets enclosing the forearm above a pleated cuff, rings on three fingers below oval nails manicured and tinted gold. The hand bobbed on the end of the arm, beckoning, waving, appearing to engage in sign language. I think we all gasped and possibly even swore. Then the arm bounced, hopped off the table, landed on its padded elbow, and – capered is the only word for it – capered off down the hall and disappeared through a door.
There was a moment of stunned silence. I turned to Tor and she was grinning impishly.
Pross said, “What was that?” Then he said as if relieved, “A robotic toy! Very interesting! So realistic! Is it a plaything for the Kal’s children?
Tor said, “That’s not a robotic toy. You have just met Veski-mah, one of the Greeters. I think she’ll be in trouble – I’m quite sure Lord Hetsip-dohná didn’t want her out here.”
Again, silence. Then a kind of choked snort issued from Hart Pross. “What are you … ? Are you implying … ?”
Fortunately, Ghito interrupted him. Big-eyed with wonder, she said, “It’s alive? Why, how beautiful! Let’s go on! I have a feeling there are some real marvels ahead!”
“God, what kind of trickery … ?” Pross began.
I silenced him by jabbing my fist into the small of his back and said, “Yes, Minister Tor, what other surprises are you hiding from us?”
Tor laughed. “I knew your curiosity would be piqued. Come with me."
[If you want to know what is inside the door, buy the book!]