“Organic Science” is a postapocalyptic tale set on an Earth that has been conquered by a race of reptiles, called “Lizzies” by the remnants of humanity who live as exhibits in zoos. In the original version, the Lizzies were intelligent dinosaurs who had used time travel to escape into the future; in the version that appeared as the January 1999 lead story in the magazine Not One Of Us, they had become aliens. Either way, they don’t waste much.
The stink was particularly bad today. It was the heat; high temperatures stimulated the growth of the bacteria that gave the Lizzies their putrid, rotten-meat odor. In all fairness, he probably didn’t smell so good himself.
Alistair kicked his feet in the lukewarm water of the pond. He took a drink of blackberry wine, then nearly choked on it as a bugship swept in and hovered overhead. The flying machine resembled a gigantic insect, with six spindly legs, multifaceted eyes, and membranous wings that split the sunlight like a prism. The downdraft rattled the heat-shrunken leaves, broke the surface of the pond into ripples, and kicked up stinging dust from the dry earth. Alistair shielded his eyes with his hand.
After a moment the bugship zipped off, the buzz of its wings fading. Alistair shook his head, flinging grit from his hair. The surface of the pond was coated with dust and leaves.
He remembered the first time he had seen a bugship, during the war, when they had made a desperate attempt to understand and replicate Lizzie technology. But their machines were completely organic, and decomposed rapidly when not maintained. Captured Lizzie equipment quickly became useless goo; not that they had ever captured much of it anyway.
Because the Lizzies had won every battle, right from the start.
NIGHT WATCHMAN was my first horror novel sale, to Hard Shell Word Factory, an e-book and print-on-demand publisher. After accidentally signing up to give a reading at the 1997 World Horror Convention in Niagara Falls (hey, the forms were confusing, okay?), I had to call back to my office and have a friend fax me over some pages of NIGHT WATCHMAN and my story “The Short Route” so that I would have something to read from. The readings did help lead to the eventual publication of my second novel, A FLOCK OF CROWS IS CALLED A MURDER, so it all worked out in the end.
Mrs. Barrett rises. “You don’t believe in it,” she says in a whisper, “but be careful. Listen to me! Beware the power of Satan.”
“Don’t worry, ma’am,” Nate says. “We’re pure of heart and noble of purpose. Right, Frank?”
“Maybe you are,” Frank says.
They go back into the hallway. Mrs. Barrett shuts the door behind them and locks it four different ways as they head for the stairs. The air is just as rank on the fourth-floor landing as it was on the first, and doesn’t improve much as they climb. “Do you think we need backup?” asks Nate as they ascend the last flight to the rooftop door.
“Nah. For a bunch of kids? They got knives, we got guns.”
“But what about the power of Satan?”
Frank points to his groin. “I got the power of Satan right here. Now c’mon, or we’ll miss the Black Mass.”
Not merely the answer to a trivia question, this was the first novel I had published. It was actually the third horror novel that I wrote, after an unpublished (but still good!) vampire novel and the infamous (in some circles — very, very small ones) NIGHT WATCHMAN. Currently out of print, CROWS will soon be reissued by Amazon.com’s BookSurge imprint.
He plowed into her, bore her backwards onto the bed. He was trying to kiss her; his lips, dry and cold and leathery, brushed hers, then mashed against them. She squirmed beneath him, trying to break the contact, but his hands shot up and gripped her head like the edges of a vise.
His mouth opened, forcing hers to open, too. She felt the first clammy, sticky bubbles of slime coming out of his throat, dribbling into hers. Salty mucous, gunk. She couldn’t breathe; he had gummed up her nose with snot, her mouth was full of it.
He wanted her to swallow, that was it; swallow, and breathe, and be like him …