Thursday, July 28, 2011

Extraction Point! Ch 1 part 1

Extraction Point!
by Travis S. Taylor & Stephanie Osborn

Chapter 1

Ray wasn't quite sure where the music was coming from, but it was loud. The second time he managed to force his head above the murky brown and gray water in the hubcap-deep tire buster of a pothole, he could hear the music pounding even louder than his heart AND the pouring rain–which was saying something. It was a remake of the old Guns 'n' Roses tune Perfect Crime–and from what he could tell, IT ROCKED.

The rain and the music and a chance to catch his breath gave him a quick burst of adrenaline to fight against the force of the two knees in his back, the hand grasping tight at the nape of his neck, and the fist beating into his left ribs. Ray flinched from the repeated jabs of pain pummeling into his side and could feel the adrenaline--and his hold above the water--slipping. So he took a deep gulp of air just before his face was slammed forward into the puddle, his nose bashing hard against the gravelly, broken asphalt at the bottom. The automatic gasp of pain that came next was inevitable. So was the water that filled his mouth.

Instinct engaged, and his body thrashed in wild desperation as he fought to avoid inhaling the filthy water. Despite his best efforts, he began choking, which in turn brought on a cough/gag reflex. Drowning, he realized, triggered bodily responses that were not only hardwired, but damn difficult to overcome.

I'm getting my ass kicked, he thought, verging on panicky despite himself. I've got to do something! Something Goddamned quick!

Using every ounce of willpower he possessed, Ray let his strength go and relaxed so that the man on his back could force him down and therefore be baited into a false sense of dominance–even, maybe, the notion that Ray was dead. Then he gritted his teeth and threw his right elbow up with all the strength he had left.

"Get OFF me!!" he yelled, muddy water gurgling from his lips as his elbow hit something hard–just when he lost his balance with his left hand, causing him to slip full face forward into the murky pothole… again. But the grip around his neck was gone.

Maneuvering both of his hands under himself push-up style, Ray managed to roll his body to the right, forcing his attacker off his back while continuing his roll over and then flipping backwards onto his feet. Ray shook the rain, mud, and blood out of his eyes, hacked slimy water from his windpipe, and made ready for an attack, but soon realized that his elbow had caught the man that he had been fighting square on the nose. The man was standing, briefly stunned and temporarily blinded, with bright red blood mixed with rain pouring profusely down his face. This gave Ray only long enough to catch his breath and scan the area for his handgun. He didn't see it anywhere. Shit. I liked that gun. Ok, hand to hand it's gonna be then, he thought to himself, easing into a shallow horse stance while really wishing he hadn't let the guy get the drop on him and knock his pistol out of his grip earlier.


Extraction Point! is available for purchase through Barnes-Noble and Amazon, as well as Twilight Times Books.

See other books by Stephanie Osborn at

Monday, July 18, 2011

My husband is a keeper

by Stephanie Osborn

I just returned from Libertycon, one of several major SF conventions in Chattanooga TN. There, I was delighted to be this year's Science Guest of Honor. These are good people, down-home, loving and friendly. As usual, they not only ran my standard bio in their program book, they also asked some people to give them their stories about me. Due to some crossed wires, they got two: one from my good friend Sara Harvey, and one from my husband, Darrell Osborn.

Now, Darrell and I have been married quite awhile, and like most married couples of long standing, we know we love each other and that's that. The busyness of life and the knowledge of belonging - as well as some reticence on both sides to be able to say the things that we feel deepest - means that the knowing is felt, not said.

Until the convention. And then my dear husband laid it all on the line for everyone to see. And I am so proud I can't stop reading it. So I'm going to share it with the world:

Let's start at the beginning. Decades ago, before many of you were born, my friend Danny and I were walking through the theater building on the campus of Austin Peay [State University] in Clarksville, TN. We were passing through the "Green Room" on our way to the stage when we saw an attractive blonde sitting on the couch. We looked at each other and then did what any red-blooded theatre geek would do. We hit on her. That was the first time I met Stephanie Gannaway. She was finishing her last year at APSU and preparing to graduate with a triple major in Math, Physics, and Chemistry. She was also picking up minors in Geology and Computer Science. My first thought was, "At last, someone I can talk to."

Fast forwarding a couple of years finds us married and living in student housing on the campus of Vanderbilt in Nashville. Stephanie was working on a Masters in Astronomy and I was creating havoc in the Live Entertainment Department at Opryland [back when it was a theme park -Steph]. One day word came down that Carl Sagan was coming to give a talk. You've got to remember, at this time Carl Sagan was a science rock star. Everyone knew "Cosmos" and he was a regular on Carson's Tonight Show. We later find out that Max, one of her professors, and Sagan were college buddies. The talk was great and we went to reception afterward. We progressed through the greeting line until we reached Max and Sagan. Max introduced Stephanie as one of the two astronomy graduate students. As Stephanie shook his hand, Max leaned over and whispered to Sagan, "She's one of the good ones." Sagan gave a knowing little smile and nod. That was our Sagan moment. Although brief, I think that short phrase and nod meant more to her than any of the degrees she had gotten.

A few decades have passed and so has Sagan. Now Stephanie has moved from science and her involvement in the space program to its symbiote science fiction. I have no doubt that the time will come again when she will stand before some sci-fi writer rock star and once again hear the words, "She's a good one." (That reminds me of the time we ran into Ray Bradbury; a story for another time.)

Last year I re-connected with Danny. He's now an Associate Dean at the University of Memphis. That's a great accomplishment, but I got the girl.

-Darrell "Doc" Osborn

Yep. I always knew Darrell was a keeper. <3

-Stephanie Osborn

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day, All!

Today is a special day in our nation’s history. Today, in 1776, the Second Continental Congress formally adopted what we now know as the Declaration of Independence. Two days before, they had voted to approve a resolution of independence, but felt that it was necessary to put out a statement explaining this vote. The resulting document is the Declaration, which in modern parlance would be considered something of a press release! It has been celebrated ever since, beginning on its first anniversary in 1777.

The American Independence Day is a fine day to remember what it is to be a citizen of this wonderful country. It is also a day to remember those who serve, who now and ever shall, I hope, maintain the freedoms upon which this country was “impelled to the separation.” Those who serve, not only in our Armed Forces, but as police, firefighters, paramedics, and emergency responders of all kinds.

I myself was briefly an emergency responder, a technical officer in the Department of Public Safety for a small Native American reservation. I provided security for the reservation during public events, ensured that animals were not mistreated, performed investigations, and responded to traffic accidents, the latter mostly occurring off the reservation when I happened upon them. I was present at death, though I cannot say I was ever blessed to be present at a birth. So I have some small feeling of what it is like to be on the first line of defense.

I have also worked as a government contractor, a payload flight controller for our civilian and military space programs, and in developing defensive measures for our nation.

Perhaps that is why invariably my writing seems to have the component of patriotism and service to country, and even planet. To me, heroes are those who do whatever it takes to ensure that people are safe and that right is always victorious. And I don’t mean that in political terms. I mean it in terms of morals and conscience. The guys in the white hats, as it were. It’s essential to me that my protagonists, while being fundamentally human and capable of error, always strive to do the right thing to the best of their understanding and ability. Because that same thing is essential to me, fundamental to my being.

After all, like so many before me, I, too, swore “To Protect and Serve.”

-Stephanie Osborn, July 4, 2011