Free eBook Fridays: August

On our next installment of Free eBook Fridays we have my first novella “The Tommy Gun.” I self-published this book on January 22 as an eBook and paperback. Today only, until midnight, the eBook is available for a free download. Once a month I will offer one of my eBooks for free in the hopes that those who download it will read it and write a review on either Amazon or Goodreads. Reviews are not mandatory, but an honest review will help promote my works and are greatly appreciated. Get your free copy before the promotion ends. Download Here.

I first wrote this book in November 2017 during the NaNoWriMo event, which means National Novel Writing Month. After editing the work, several words were cut causing it to go from a novel to a novella. Many traditional publishers will not publish anything below 70,000 words and this book is just under 50,000 words. I chose to self-publish and have already garnered more sales than my previous works. The paperback is not free, but I do plan to offer some paperback giveaways in the coming year. Below is the synopsis of the book. I hope you enjoy your free copy.

“Government corruption. Hate speeches. A country divided. The world Brent White knew is crumbling. He gets his call to action when a friend goes missing. He trains himself to become a weapon against the new dictatorship. He fights through criminals and concentration camps to find his friend and save lives. He becomes a guardian for the persecuted. To end the suffering, he must stop one person. The politician turned dictator. Ronald Teagun. The Tommy Gun.”

Fiction Friday: TG #3

I’ve never finished reading a book. I’ve never finished watching movies or TV shows. I find it all so…boring. How long have I been alive? I don’t count years of life but years of boredom. The trivial things everyone else finds entertaining; it all feels like nonsense to me. Even now, I’m sitting here waiting to meet this, this vigilante. I have a book in my hands but I’m not reading it. I stare at the words and make up things when others ask me about the book. I usually get caught for being wrong, but those who’ll never read the book won’t know who to believe. My supporters will support me.

I’m not interested in this vigilante business, but the Department heads say he causes social backlash and financial hardship. He hasn’t caused any major problems and he’ll eventually get killed trying to save people. The Department heads disagree and think he’ll become a greater threat. I keep telling them if someone could stop me from ruling the richest country in the world, they would have by now. They tell me I’m too arrogant and then I get bored again and ignore them. They think I’m dumb because I play dumb for the public, but they have no idea how smart I am. I’m the smartest man. No one knows how smart I am. People wish they could be as smart as me.

Acting dumb for the public? My publicist’s idea. At first, I liked the idea. It felt like I played a character on TV. Play the fool to win the hearts and minds of the people. They never saw that coming. The cattle. The poor. These disgusting people. If they weren’t needed, I’d get rid of them all. Honestly, there are just too many people. You kill one and ten more pop up. They’re a plague. A disgusting virus on the Earth. I could do it. I mean, I’ll probably have someone else do it, but I could do it if I wanted to. I’m strong enough. And with enough bullets, I can do anything.

I stopped being the fool once I took over the media. They do whatever I say, when I say, and they don’t ask questions. I hate when people question me. They don’t know how smart I am and they’re not smart, so they ask questions to make up for being stupid. No one questions me anymore. If they do, they aren’t around long enough to get an answer. Questions are boring and don’t interest me. When people do as I say, I’m not bored. I like it.

I don’t want to wait this long, but my generals tell me they’re bringing in a specialist to interrogate this vigilante. Part of me has some interest in this. My generals think an extremist group or cult or something funds the vigilante. I never listen to what they say. I’m getting restless just sitting here. I need to do something. Why hasn’t he woken up yet? Doesn’t he know how busy I am? I have things to do and places to be.

Life felt easier in my youth. I didn’t have as much power, but I had more fun. I managed and funded many businesses. I even spent some time working in film and television. I won the election because everyone knew my name and had known it for years. You can’t buy decades of publicity in a few months on a campaign. You can’t buy my kind of celebrity. I enjoyed life more before the celebrity. I could do what I wanted when fewer people had their eyes on me. I participated more in my organization back then. I got my nickname around this time. The Tommy Gun. Ron Teagun. The T-Gun; the Tommy Gun. A lot of people died by my hands and by my guns. I’m proud of this nickname.

They didn’t make those Thompson rifles at the time. When I started out, I had to steal one from a museum. I didn’t think it still worked; I just wanted it. I got hired for this jewel heist when I still had pimples on my face. We got the gems but, as we left, I saw her in a glass case. I had always liked them because they were different from other rifles. I never saw one in person. I didn’t think. I just took it. All the guys laughed at me for grabbing a piece of junk, but I cleaned it up and tested it. It still worked! I used it on every job until I became the boss and sent other guys out on jobs.

I had a new line of rifles made just for my men. All new Thompson rifles. They were popular again and everyone had one, even police departments around the country. I made millions just from weapon sales. I still have my first Thompson in my office at home. I call her Trisha, my most prized possession. I still clean her once a week.

Thompson rifle sales generated good money; legitimate money. I had my first successful business venture. I continued most of the illegal activities. An accountant suggested investing in other companies and businesses. Many of them failed, but I still made a profit. I knew how to work the system and get everything I wanted. Whether the businesses failed or not, I always gained something. My power and influence grew.

I built a name for myself the hard way, from the ground up. I’m smart like that. Not like this vigilante kid. He wants attention; blowing things up so people know his name. He won’t build a career from that. He won’t make money from that. But he does have money. Where did he get it? He needs money for armor and explosives. I doubt he buys anything else. He should buy a hairbrush and deodorant; such a dirty person, unkempt mange of hair. He needs a shave. I can smell him from ten feet away. My generals are threatened by this guy? I’m insulted. I’m better than everyone; especially this guy. They don’t know what they’re talking about. I should have them killed. I’ll kill them some other time. I still have use for them.

This book makes my hands sweaty. Why am I still holding it? This guy clearly has never read a book. He looks homeless. That might be why we can’t find any information on him; no work history, no finger print records. I’ve never met a ghost. He mumbled a name, but my sources have no information on that person either. Someone named Sasha. Perhaps he has Arabic contacts. He doesn’t look like a terrorist and my men don’t think he has any ties, but we’ll learn more once the doctor arrives. I can’t wait to see that.

As exciting as that sounds, nothing compares to holding my Trisha. I love the feel of her cold, black steel in my hands, the fine wood finish of the handles, feeling the curves and mechanisms. They made her in 1926, model M1921AC; so beautiful. Her model inspired the new rifles. They have better manufacturing, but nothing compares to Trisha. My irreplaceable Trisha. I still have her in my hands every day. We haven’t gotten to play in so long. I miss hearing her sing. I would give anything to hear her sing again, but I don’t get my hands dirty anymore. I’ve had no need for that in a long time.

We used to make beautiful music. I remember, years ago before I became a boss, we had to teach a lesson to a rival gang. Not just a lesson for them, but a lesson to anyone who wanted to mess with us. Me and a couple boys went in, but I got to have all the fun. Trish and I serenaded the warehouse with a symphony of gun fire. Continuous, rapid fire, a swarm of bullets; the air filled with smoke as the floor filled with blood and empty shells. I truly felt at peace during those moments. I felt I lived my purpose; my dream.

I’m probably restless and bored so often these days because I miss all the fun. I can’t remember the last time I joined in a firefight. I haven’t directly killed anyone in several years. I always have someone else do it. I always saw beauty in taking someone else’s life. I remember my first bare handed strangulation. Barely twenty years old, I had to take out some nosey police detective for my boss. It felt like poetry in motion. He struggled against me, but my strength overpowered him. I’m the strongest man in the world. I would have used Trisha, but the boss wanted this to be quiet. Every time he struggled, I’d slam his head on the floor with my hands around his neck. Time froze in this moment. I watched as the gleam in his eyes faded away. They became glazed over and dull. After that day, I always stared into the eyes of the lifeless bodies of my enemies. I see beauty in how the body changes.

I’ll be there when the light fades from this vigilante’s eyes. I consider it a guilty pleasure; a treat I give myself for a job well done. I never treat myself anymore. I’m just growing impatient. Where the hell is that doctor? And why hasn’t this guy woken up yet? I don’t think they hit him that hard. Maybe I’ll read a little more of this book.

“Massive genocide, man was crazy, blah, blah, blah.”

Bored again. I’ll just flip through a few pages, so others think I’m progressing. Does anyone read anymore? You can learn everything you need from television. Does anyone watch television? I just want to go home and feel Trisha in my hands and maybe watch a movie; something with explosions. I haven’t been around any good explosions lately.

Finally, the doctor arrives. I’ll start the conversation. I quickly assert my dominance by starting the conversation.

“Hello doctor. I’m looking forward to seeing your work.”

He’s a short, older man with a full head of grey hair. I hate him already. He moves slowly like a turtle; a skinny, wrinkly turtle with no shell. He moves slowly, but with purpose. His real hair is mocking my toupee. No one knows I have a hair piece. Anyone who found out lost their job before they told anyone. He hasn’t said a word. I’ve only heard wheezing noises. I’ll try again.

“I’m told you are the best in your area of study. I only work with the best.”

“You’ve never been around for this kind of interrogation. It is not a business luncheon. Save the small talk. I despise it.” The doctor says.

He speaks with a high shrill voice. He speaks his words carefully and slowly just as he walks. What a strange little man.

“Very well. How long before this pile of stool tells me what we need to know?”

“Most break within four hours. I’ll start when he wakes.” The doctor says.

This immediately makes me impatient. I have things to do. Doesn’t he know how important I am?

“I don’t have time to wait for him to wake. Is there anything you can do?”

The doctor smirks. Now I really hate him.

“I have a sedative I can give him. It will wake him, but I must wait a few minutes to make sure he is fully awake before I begin my work. It would be best if I was left alone. This is tedious work and I don’t like distractions. Shall I prepare the sedative?”

“Yes, please. Do it.”

It feels so painful listening to him speak. A sloth could beat him in a race. He pulls things from his bag one at a time. Just pull it all out, dump it. He mocks me with how slow he moves. I should remember to have him killed once we’re done with him.

“It doesn’t seem like you have enough tools there for an interrogation of this kind.”     

“This is only my medical bag. I have a briefcase outside with all my toys. The sedative will be ready in a moment.” The doctor says.

He putts gloves on. How long does this take? I’ll die of old age before he ever has this stuff ready. He pulls from the bag a needle in plastic wrap, three little bottles of clear liquid, one empty bottle, a bottle of rubbing alcohol, and a bag of cotton balls. Why does he need so much for one sedative?

He mixes the three liquids into the empty bottle. No, don’t go back into the bag. It’ll take him twenty minutes to finish this. Why does he have a popsicle stick? Oh, he stirs the liquids. Dear Lord, I’m watching the most boring activity in existence. Now he unwraps the syringe. He fills it with the liquid. How long does this take? I’ll fall asleep before he finishes. Why does he flick the needle with his finger? I’ve never understood why people do that.

Don’t put the needle down! Okay, he putts rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball. Oh, thank Heavens, he picked up the needle. Yes, he walks over. He cleans the neck; almost done. He even puts the needle in super slowly. The needle sits there. Is he done yet?

“Well!?”

“Patience, Mr. Teagun. He’ll awake in about five minutes. I will wait outside until you are ready for me.” The doctor says.

He putts everything back into his medical bag one at a time; even the trash. It feels like time itself has slowed down since he got here. He finally leaves, but this guy still sleeps.

“Mr. Johnson.”

Yes, Mr. Teagun.”

“What’s this guy’s name again?”

“His real name is Brent White. His alias is Al Hafiz; or the Guardian, Sir.”

“Thank you, that’ll be all.”

“Yes, Sir.”

So now I just sit here and wait? I’m bored. I hate everything about this. Did he just moan? He stirs. I better get my book ready. Maybe if I hold it this way. No, I’ll sit like this with the book on my knee. Yeah that looks great.

“Oh! He awakes.”

His brown eyes have a fire behind them. He doesn’t look happy. I will have a lot of fun with this guy.

“You’ve been very busy interrupting all of my good deeds for this country, Mr. White.”

He looks surprised that I know his name. That gives me power.

“Oh, yes we know your real name Brent. May I call you, Brent?”

An excerpt from the novella The Tommy Gun.

Fiction Friday: TG #2

            I kept training and searching for you. I figured out how to buy things off the grid; mostly stealing from drug dealers and gangs. If I bought anything, I used cash, to avoid a digital paper trail. Fighting criminals provided great experience, but it didn’t aid me finding you.
            The new administration pushed their anti-immigrant and anti-homosexual agenda. Despite all the efforts to prevent it, the government deported people back to their homeland, or at least neighboring countries. After a few months, the administration decided their efforts needed to be more extreme, so they built camps to hold anyone they deemed a criminal. And who thought up this dehumanizing scheme? The politician turned dictator. Ronald Teagun. The Tommy Gun. By this point, the government silenced or eliminated any agencies that challenged them. The government discredited the honest news sources, so only the ones supporting the administration still circulated their version of the news.
            The Arabic citizens got thrown into the internment camps first. Homosexuals soon followed. I worried they sent you to one of these camps and several popped up all over the country.
            Searching for you became a huge task to undertake. I spent months getting in shape and learning at least enough to defend myself without fighting someone. I familiarized myself with restraining people until the police arrived, but with the things I planned, the police wouldn’t help me.
            The team of lawyers continued trying to get any information about you or the other airline passengers. I sent them the information I got from Peterson anonymously, but they hit another wall at the county prison. They claimed to have no records of any airline detainees and they didn’t have enough information to get a judge to sign off on a warrant. I believe the lawyers exhausted their best efforts, but the system kept working against them.
            I thought the county Sheriff would know of any special prisoners at the county prison. I knew I would need to get information the way I did before; the illegal method. For a moment, I considered what you would think of my illegal activities. I decided the ends justified the means. I felt I needed more protection to question the county sheriff; like Kevlar protection. I had to get it without it being traced back; off the grid. I asked around some firing ranges. Many required shooters to wear Kevlar, so I said I wanted to buy my own. They offered to sell me a used Kevlar. I wanted a new vest. This felt easier, but I couldn’t purchase one without using my name, so I took the firing range’s offer. They happily accepted and didn’t keep records. They wanted an excuse to buy new vests.
            I knew it wouldn’t be easy to interrogate the sheriff. I spent a little more time getting information. One can learn a lot about people on the internet. To the public, Joe Kennedy acted like a good man and got re-elected several times. His children had grown and lived out of state, so I only had to worry about his wife.
            Dealing with Sheriff Kennedy proved easier than expected. By the second day of following him learning his habits, I saw an opportunity to gain leverage. He drove to a motel. He knocked on a door and a woman greeted him with a big hug. I took pictures of everything. He stayed there for two hours. When he finally walked out, the woman wore a bathrobe as he buttoned his shirt with a loose tie around his neck. I took more pictures. He drove home and ate dinner with his wife.
            I sent a letter with one photo telling him to meet me at an old warehouse to get the other pictures. I wore my vest and mask.
            “What do you want?” Kennedy said.
            “Information. The airline detainees. Where were they taken?”
            “They stayed at the county jail for a couple days and then some feds picked them up.”
            “Where did they take them?”
            “They only told me they were being taken to a classified holding facility. They didn’t say where and I didn’t ask.”
            “Anything else?”
            “No one said, but I got the impression they weren’t getting due process.”
            “You figure that out all by yourself?” I said.
            “I cooperated so I wouldn’t lose my job. That’s why I’m here.”
            “You should worry about losing your wife, but your secret is safe with me.”
            “How do I know you won’t go public?”
            “I’d lose my leverage if I did. I may have use for you later.”
            Kennedy stormed off. The meeting went easier than I expected.
            The camps were running for a few months by the time the public heard about them. I hoped they hadn’t put you in one of these camps. They had only one camp in our state so that felt like the logical place they would take you. Only one road lead to the camp with several checkpoints along the way.
            I’d have to climb the fence to get in and I didn’t know how to tell the buildings apart. I assumed the worst. I thought they would have cameras, motion sensors, or even an electrified fence. I prepared myself for everything. I planned to set explosives on a timer to use as a distraction. If I couldn’t go in quietly, I’d make twice as much noise to keep the guards away from me. I expected the worst.
            I walked almost a mile in the dark to avoid the road to the camp. A sign said they monitor the area with aircraft, but I saw nothing in the sky. They didn’t have electrified fences or motion sensors. They had pivoting cameras attached to the fences. These were easy to avoid. Bolt cutters helped me get through the fence. I had to observe the place for a couple days to learn what the buildings might be and the guard schedule. I got the information I needed, but I had to lie on the ground and not move for several hours. When I tried to leave, I could barely move. I returned the next night to observe the camp from another angle and to confirm information.
            They split the prisoners into two groups and put them into two different buildings. I couldn’t see any reason for the separation other than lack of space. The buildings sat next to each other, but I needed time to get into each one. I couldn’t see what kind of locks the buildings had because of the distance, but I planned to have small explosives and bolt cutters anyway, so I didn’t think I would have trouble. I didn’t know how to distract the guards, so I could get all the people out. 
            A simple plan; sneak in, take out the couple roaming guards, take out the guards by the prisoner buildings, get the prisoners out, and then run like Hell. Too easy. I expected everything to go wrong.
            I arrived later than planned. Not really an issue, but it put me in a bad mood. I hid underneath one of the rotating cameras giving me time to cut the fence. If something went wrong, I planned to leave this way too. The camp had many lights. This made it difficult to stay in the shadows. I took down one guard, but I had few options to hide the body. If I could get to the other roaming guard before he noticed the body, I’d be okay. The other guard turned the corner and never saw me coming. I had two guards down and only two more to go. 
            I waited to take down the two guards at the prison buildings when I saw another roaming guard. They didn’t have three guards before. I ran to take him out before he noticed the unconscious guards. Before I could, the alarm sounded.
            Stealth didn’t matter anymore. I ran back to the prisoners and knocked out the guards. The doors on the building had a keypad on the handle. I had no time to play with numbers. I knocked the door knob loose with my bolt cutters. This took longer than I expected. The prisoners looked surprised someone broke open the door. They didn’t think to leave.
            “RUN!”
            The guards came towards us as I lead everyone to the nearest fence. The explosives made a nice hole for everyone to run through, but there were too many people. The guards would catch some of them. I took a chance and set my last explosive on one building. When the guards got close, pieces of building fell on them. I hoped it would give everyone enough time to escape, but I’d never know if I killed anyone. The prisoners scattered and ran to the nearest road. I never saw you among them. Where are you, Sasha?
            If you were there and escaped, I would have heard from you after a couple days. Word never came, and I learned the camp reopened after only a week. This disappointed me, but they never caught the escaped prisoners. I did something good, but I never found you. I knew I’d have to break into another camp, but not the same one. Not soon at least. I planned to always destroy the entire camp, so they couldn’t reopen. That required more money and more information; definitely more explosives.
            I had to travel out of state to get to the next internment camp. This alone made the task more difficult. Despite the dictatorship regulating information, everyone knew the location of the camps. The government wanted people to turn in their friends and relatives. I had no trouble finding the camp but getting there undetected wouldn’t be easy. Any kind of travel got regulated and monitored. The government had checkpoints on state border lines of every major interstate and most highways. This required a lot of armed guards and there were too many roads. They installed cameras on some roads, but the process took several months. Several of the highways were still unmonitored. I knew this would change within six months, so I used the opportunity. I drove where I needed to go, but I had to make sure I didn’t leave a paper trail. I made cash purchases, stayed on the poorer side of town, and no vigilantism before getting to the camp.
            The second camp rested near the city. I could stand on top of buildings and survey the camp with binoculars. I knew no one in the city and didn’t know where I could hide if I needed to. Everyone in the city acted paranoid. They suspected anyone and everyone. The clerk at the hotel I checked into never stopped asking questions. I planned for this and had a fake ID prepared.
            “What are you in town for?” The clerk said.
            “Business.”
            “What kind of business?”
            “Circuit board manufacturing.”
            “Circuit boards?”
            “For computers.”
            “Oh, yeah, yeah. You travel a lot? I bet your wife hates that.”
            “Not too often. Just once a month. I make sure I’m never home long enough for her to get sick of me.”
            The clerk laughed. He relaxed. He noticed the ring on my finger. I wore it as part of my cover. I had no trouble with the clerk for the rest of my time there.
            I saw the camp from the hotel roof. I had a thousand-millimeter camera lens. I set this up to look like I took pictures of the moon. Before the country lost its mind, you might remember my early photography and since art remained legal, and I thought it would become illegal, I used this to my advantage. 
            I heard someone open the door to the roof. I hid my notebook and binoculars in my bag.
            “You can’t be up here.”
            The hotel security guard said. He wore a red shirt and his keys jingled.
            “Sorry about that. I’ll pack my stuff up. The door was open, so I thought it was okay.” I said.
            “Yeah, the A/C guy probably left it open. Is that a camera?”
            “Yeah, I got some nice shots of the moon. There’s a few of the sunset too.”
            I showed him the pictures which put him at ease. He appreciated them.
            “My sister has that same camera, but she mostly does portraits.” He said.
            “That’s how I started but then I got other lenses and tried different things.”
            “Well, look, I gotta have you go down tonight but if you want to come up here tomorrow, just let me know. I’m Robert.”
            “I appreciate that. Let me see how these pictures turned out and I’ll let you know if I need more.”
            Sometimes just being friendly gets you more than you ever hoped. After reviewing my notes, I felt I had enough to get started. I needed to look at the camp up close. I had to differentiate the buildings. I thought I could drive over, but there wouldn’t be much for me to do. With it being close to the city, someone would see me.
            I wanted to keep a solid relationship with the security guard, so I got two photos printed for him. And then lady luck blessed me with the best news. I phished for information and got so much more.
            “Hey Robert, what’s that big place with the lights outside the city? It looks like an airport or something.”
            “Oh, that’s the criminal internment camp. The city’s very proud because the crime rate dropped after it opened. They give tours every Thursday.”
            “Really? Have you gone on the tour?”
            “No, but I heard it’s a whole new way to rehabilitate people. It’s really organized.”
            “That sounds interesting. I should check that out. Today’s Tuesday, right?”
            “Yep. Next tour is in two days.”
            “Thanks Robert. I’ll bring you another photo tomorrow.”
            Who knew they gave tours? I could get all the information I needed in just one visit. I felt confident this would be a more successful operation than the first one. I wondered if you were there; if I’d see you.
            The tour went better than expected. I saw all the things I needed to and all the other people asked questions I wanted to ask. We didn’t go near the prisoner buildings, but the guards told us where they were. I spent a couple more days planning and gaining any gear I needed. I checked out of the hotel, so I could go straight home after I completed the mission. I’d be across the state line before they blocked off the roads.
            The guard shift changes started at ten in the evening. There were fewer cameras and the shift change had fewer roaming guards by the fences. I got in quickly and I put explosive charges on some buildings as I moved quietly to the prisoner buildings. I didn’t have enough explosives for every building, so I had to choose carefully. I easily picked the door locks, and I saw people in individual cells. Most of them slept. I heard a voice to my right.
            “You finally get my coffee, Mick? I’m falling asleep over here.” The guard said.
            He watched a small television with his feet propped on the table. He faced away from me. I knocked him out and took his keys. I opened each cell one at a time and they each required a different key. Thankfully, they labeled the keys. I went back to the door after I had one prisoner open the rest when another guard entered the building.
            “Mick said you needed coffee, Steve, so I brought… What the hell!?”
            I hit him before he could get his firearm then I threw his head against the wall and knocked him out. Once all the prisoners were ready to run, I hit the alarm and told them which part of the fence to run towards. The alarm got everyone out of the buildings, even the guards. I blew the charges on the buildings when the prisoners got to the fence. This disoriented the guards and gave us more time to escape.
            I ran back to my car as the prisoners’ scattered. I heard the news on the radio say terrorists infiltrated the camp.
            “The terrorists damaged the facility so heavily, it will be several months before they can reopen the prison.”
            I never understood why they needed such a huge place for a few prisoners. Sadly, you weren’t among them. It took several hours to get to the next camp. That one didn’t have a tour, but I planned things without too much trouble. I hoped the mission would go smoothly. Long story short… I got caught. Someone knocked me out after I snuck into the prisoner building. I never saw who hit me and everything went black.

An excerpt from the novella The Tommy Gun.