Welcome Osman Proper's Blog

This blog is meant to answer questions, keep readers up to date on new and upcoming stories, as well as allow me the opportunity to interact with my readers.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please feel free to post them or email me directly at osproper@gmail.com.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Competitive Edge Cover in Progress

So the amazing Chelsea and I have drummed up the cover idea, now we just have to make it happen.  Competitive Edge is almost ready for release.  I'm so excited I can't see straight anymore...or maybe it's lack or sleep-or worse a caffeine overdose...do those actually happen?

On a side note....

William Hopp, a fellow author and friend, who drew me into his complicated Zombie fiction years ago, recently sent me a script for his new found footage movie project Abductee.  Please click the links for additional info on the author and the project.

Often times, found footage films are hit or miss.  What I think Hopp is going to bring to the table with Abductee, outside of his usual brand of awesome, is a unique spin on the complicated and often misunderstood concepts surrounding alien abduction and influence.  Heavy emphasis on the psychological aspect, which of course, I love.  Thrillers and horror flicks are my flick addictions, with that being said, I'm waiting to see this.  And if you are a fan of sci-fi and the big what-if, then this is a movie project you're going to want to help make happen.
See the above links, add Will on Facebook or take a minute to like the Abductee page.  I know he's been doing a lot of marketing to get this project off the ground and will appreciate you stopping by.  I can't imagine the nausea that comes with writing a script...don't think I want to.

And just in case he pops by and sees this:  Dude...I'm proud of you.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Competitive Edge --Sample Chapter One....

With the manuscript for Competitive Edge in the hands of editors and the photography being handled, I figured I'd go ahead and a sample chapter up here.  A tease for those out there waiting and a preview for those who don't know it's coming.

Please keep in mind that this comes from the original rough draft version.  No doubt there will likely be errors.  Try not to judge me to harshly on that.  They don't call me the tense shifting comma splice queen for nothing around here.  I've earned it.

Anyway, hope you enjoy!
O.

========================================================================

ONE

“Accidents ambush the unsuspecting, often violently, just like love.”-Andrew Davidson, The Gargoyle

“I know they say not to wear white after Labor Day but when I saw it, I just couldn’t help myself.”  I say as I run my hands over the smooth lines of my new Prada skirt set.  The sleeveless ivory blouse has a faint opalescent shimmer to it, even under the harsh glare of florescent lights in our office.  The skirt is made out of the same svelte material that ran to a perfect stop above the knee.  Classy, sophisticated, with just a hint of toned down sexy.
It is exactly what I needed.
I give Louie another practice spin, adjusting to the height of my newest stilettos, enjoying the way the cuffs secure my ankles so I won’t just slide out of them.  Usually I stick to shorter thicker heels, especially in the office, by comparison these are stilts.  It isn’t wise to wear new shoes in public before breaking them in.  Usually, it’s just a painful experience but every now and then you might end up with a broken heel.  I’d thrown caution out the window with this outfit.  Today is a big day.  I need to shine like freshly minted money.
“Girl!”  Louie’s exclamation is my seal of approval.
I sigh and because I can’t help myself.  On autopilot my hands retrace the fabric.  Italian wool, it’s a beautiful thing.  The price tags however, were not.  I’d bit the bullet anyway.  A woman in my line of work couldn’t get away with rotating the same two suits for long before people start noticing.  Men could get away with it to a degree but not women, just another layer to the glass ceiling dividing the sexes.  In advertising you rub elbows with big and expensive fish that have wives that have nothing better to do than find reasons to dislike you.  Fashion is one of the fastest ways for one woman to spot a social climber, or worse, a fake.  You want to play in the Big Leagues you need to be ready to dress the part.  Bring the A line, be careful with namedrops, make sure you are keeping up with E’s fashion reports on what’s in and what’s out, but don’t be afraid to bring your own personal style to the table.
“You know that isn’t really a cardinal rule of fashion.”  Until I met Louie, who introduced me to things like Cosmo, Fashion Week, and the many different brushes you were actually supposed to use to apply eye shadow, I didn’t know anything about makeup or clothes.  I lived in yoga pants and ponytails, which was great for the dorm but not so great for the boardroom.  Everything I knew about fashion, I learned from Louie.  He isn’t just a fashion and makeup guru, he is also my administrative assistant, but more importantly he's my friend.
Every girl should have someone like Louie in their life.  And it’s not just because he will save you from going on your next date looking like a washed out bag lady.  No, people like Louie are rare and wonderful finds.  Capable of looking beyond the fa├žades you throw over yourself like armor.  They see who you are and accept you for it without question.  When you have a bad day they can commiserate; with advice, or ice cream or maybe a good dose of man bashing, and sometimes all three.  And if you ask for the truth don’t be angry that they give it to you without blunting the edges.  If the outfit makes you look like a Christmas sausage, you’ll know.  They aren’t afraid to call you out for being a recalcitrant hoo-hoo.  But when your world falls down, they’ll be first in line to wrap you in a hug that salves the soul.
“You want me to call a cab?”  I shook my head, enjoying the weightlessness that came with the new layering I’d had the stylist put in yesterday.  When I was younger, I hated my hair because it was thick and had too much body for me to do anything with.  Thirty minutes with Louie and a flat-iron, and I had a new love for my locks.  My greatest adolescent bane had become one of my most feminine assets because women didn’t wear their hair this long anymore.  Shiny black tendrils ran over my shoulders landing just beneath my middle back.  The contrast of my hair, my skin, and the ivory fabric made me pop.
“It’s just seven blocks Louie.”  He gives my new stems a pointed look before cocking a golden brow in question.
“Yes, I’ll pay for it later but I need the time to get my thoughts in order before I get there.”  His dirty blond faux hawk shakes.  I know he doesn’t approve but Louie’s smart enough to know he won’t be able to talk me out of it.
“I’ll have the ice ready.”  A long time ago I discovered that the key to getting over a day spent in ruthless heels was a frozen bottle of water.  You simply put your foot over it and let the bottle glide from the tips of your toes to the back of your heels.  Make sure to give it a little extra pressure on the instep.  It’s cheaper and easier than trying to find someone willing to rub your feet in the middle of the day.
“You’re an angel,” I say as I grab the dark red purse/messenger bag that contained my entire life.  Emergency cosmetic touch-ups, feminine products for that unwelcome surprise, and the tablet I use to keep my chaotic schedule in order.  Be Prepared isn’t just a Boy Scout mantra.
“Not really but it is sweet you think so.”  I get one playful wink before Louie’s pushing me toward the door.
Before I step out of the office I put on the city-stare.  It’s an unfortunate necessity for battling the thick current of sidewalk traffic without having a panic attack.  Unlike Louie I had grown up in a small town, a place that made Mayberry seem bustling by comparison.  Affecting a city-stare is how I kept my mind on business and out of the crush of the crowd.  I have been walking these sidewalks for three years.  Every crack, grate, and pothole committed to memory so I could navigate blind, dodging every danger with relative ease, even in new stilts.
Heading north, I merge with other business suits, all heading in the same general direction:  the Mecca of downtown.  It is the heart of this city.  Anything and everything happens downtown.
After securing my place in the crowd, complacency and memory take over while my mind wanders to more important matters.  I run through a thousand different scenarios that might play out and how to deal with all of them.  This is the meeting that would make or break my career.  Everything I have been working for these last three years.  If I succeed, making partner by thirty wouldn’t be a dream anymore but reality.
Titan is a world-wide name synonymous with sports.  From pee-wee to the majors, everyone wears their apparel and uses their equipment because it is always the best, cutting edge.  They were one of the first athletic companies to invest in lighter football padding that reduced concussions.  It is a multi-billion dollar success story.  Their swimsuits in last year’s Summer Olympic games had pushed four swimmers to break new records.  I’d spent the last few days memorizing the details.  Every athlete Titan sponsored and even the ones they’d turned down.  I knew all the charities they chaired and championed.  And because I knew all these things, I also knew why Titan wants this meeting.
One of their biggest athletes was about to be brought down.  He is an American icon, a hero to many, and a household name.  And he wore Titan’s sponsorship patch on his jersey.  That he tested positive for steroids was going to be a major slap in the face of not only his fans but the contract he made with Titan.  Main-stream media hadn’t gotten their hands on the story yet but it was only a matter of time, hours.  While Titan had already pulled their sponsorship, there is going to be a backlash.  An All American Hero is going to be publicly stripped of his medals and titles in the upcoming weeks and Titan needs spin control, a fresh campaign to revamp their image.
Titan didn’t have exclusive contracts with any agent or agency.  It is how they kept their advertising clean and fresh over the years.  So why were they asking me for a meeting?  I might have been a new kid in the business but I already turned three multi-million dollar companies around with my campaigns.  Now I had a well-earned reputation for making the best out of the worst.  Lemons and lemonade, my Grams would say.
I’ve made it two blocks when the rain starts.  I’m prepared for the sudden mercurial shifts in Southern weather, always carrying an umbrella in my bag.  Rain causes my straight glossy hair riot in curly frizz.  So I stop to fish out my new umbrella.  I’d seen its elegant cherry stained J crooked handle and fell in love.
What I don’t see, outside my limited periphery, is the bike messenger that is forced to jump the curb nearest me to avoid being clipped by a car.  Everything would have been fine if I hadn’t been at a complete stop.  The courier catches the elegant J curve and in seconds I’m snatched out of my perfectly structured and scheduled world.  Physics takes over before I’ve even had a chance to realize exactly what’s happening.  The umbrella snaps.  I teeter off balance.  Then gravity did what it does best and down I went, ass over elbows into a cesspool of city runoff.
After the initial shock wears off, I’m briefly grateful the only thing broken in the collision is the umbrella.  That gratitude evaporates when I realize my suit is ruined beyond any and all salvation.  This is why you don’t wear white after Labor Day!
Seven blocks and didn’t make it three.  This has to be a new personal record.  My thigh highs are running in places, torn in others.  Too fast the culvert fills with trash, a second wave of filth washing over me.  Thank goodness I’ve had my tetanus booster.  The delicate Italian wool doesn’t appreciate the new accessories any more than I do.  Instead of giving into my sudden need to curl up in the fetal position and cry my eyes out, I get angry, using it to fuel my attempts to get out of the gutter.
People pass by.  They have on their own blinders on making it easy to ignore my plight.  They don’t even look in my direction.  It’s as if by leaving the sidewalk I ceased to exist.  Anonymity is one of the reasons I’d traded the small town of Ashland for the hustle and bustle of the city.  Ironic I’m suddenly cursing one of the very things I’d appreciated when I moved here.  The nameless facelessness blending that came with big city life.
Worse, I know my schedule doesn’t have time for this sort of disaster.  I can’t miss my meeting but I sure as hell can’t show up looking like the inside of a sex shop dumpster.  Two attempts end in failure.  The amazing stilts were more hindrance than help in my struggle to gain upward momentum.  I fall backward again, murky water splashing in all directions as I land square on my ass.
Grams warned me about the perils of style over substance.  And I ignored her every time.  If she could see me struggling like a half drowned sewer rat, she’d be laughing her curlers loose.  Had this travesty occurred any other day, I’d have laughed too.  I can’t laugh.  Nope.  And there is no time for the breakdown I need.  No, right now I have to pull myself back together and sally forth.  Just as I rally, the rain turns from aggravating chilly drizzle to full-scale Armageddon flash flood downpour.
Perfect.
I’ve never been a negative person or prone to wallowing.  Life is all about adapting, perseverance, and all that jazz.  All it takes to prove who you are is a little dose of adversity.  So I channel all my frustrations into another attempt to free myself and get my life back on track.  Hope isn’t lost, a little wayward maybe but not lost.  There is a spare suit in my office.  It will be close but I can make it happen.
My heels gain enough purchase to push me toward the uneven concrete curb, my freshly manicured nails slid across the rain slick surface, two get broken in the process.  Tears sting the corners of my eyes.  Could this possibly get any worse? I regret the thought the minute it slips across my brain.  Someone once told me not to provoke fate by asking stupid questions.  Another one of those times I wasn’t really listening.  My life could have been so much easier if I’d ever just stopped and listened to Grams.  All those lessons I’d been too smart and too busy to ever hear.
I don’t know why I looked up.  Instinct maybe, as if deep down a primal part of me knew something truly dreadful is heading my direction.  If I had to put money on it though, I probably looked up hoping I’d meet the eyes of some stranger who’d prove once and for all kindness and chivalry hadn’t in fact died out with the dodo bird.  Whatever the reason, there is no changing what’s barreling my direction.  Through the hazy fog brought on by the cool rain hitting the hot asphalt there is a distinct flash of familiar yellow, a cab with one broken headlight.  Geometry and its vile siblings weren’t my best subjects but my mind did the math on Einstein autopilot as I projected the trajectory of the rogue cab.  And wouldn’t you just know-it is on a crash course with me.
It figures!
Fear paints my insides an unflattering shade of canary bird yellow, almost the same color of the cab.  I don’t freeze up though.  I try harder to extricate myself from the gutters.  And I get nowhere-fast.  Worse, the cab is still barreling in my direction.  It doesn’t even look like the driver is slowing down.  He probably doesn’t even see me.  Doesn’t even realize what’s about to happen.  Water hits the pavement in this city and every last driver loses their minds.  I’m convinced IQ’s drop the minute precipitation hits the asphalt.
I have seconds left, and one of those gets spent to discover the reason I haven’t moved free of my soon-to-be-watery-grave.  My left heel is wedged, most inconveniently, in the same cast iron grate I’d been using to try and leverage my way out of the gutter.  Because I’m not religious, I have nowhere to direct my last minute Hail Mary request for a miracle and I’m not hypocrite enough to start asking for favors now.
Nope, I am going to spend my last few seconds on Earth cursing sexy impractical designer shoes…..

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Veil Series Q&A

The Ever Expanding.....

Where did the idea come from?
Simply put:  Madness.
If you’ve found anything about me via the vast spectrum of interwebs and social media, it’s that I’m 101% certifiable.  Reclusive and bipolar writing has always allowed me to connect to the world in ways I can’t in reality.  Prin started out no different from the rest of my characters, a voice inside my head that wouldn’t shut up until I started writing.  No, I’m not a complete nutter, though there are days I’m sure those around me truly wonder.
So, there I was thinking about this great city that would later become known through two different stories as Antigone.  (I took my favorite parts of my favorite cities and threw them together.)  While I sketched out Antigone, Prin started talking.  And she just didn’t stop.  Prin’s journey was loosely similar to my own.  She is by far one of the most emotionally stunted characters I’ve ever encountered.
It is through her madness I better understood my own.

Why has it taken you so long to put this story out?
The original manuscript was lost with the great hard drive crash that took several other manuscripts with it; Perception, Silverside, Abby, and Patient 49.  For a writer, this is akin to losing an entire family.  For a bipolar writer, it was a disaster of the apocalyptic variety.
One intervention and a heavy dose of medication later, I redrafted Prin the best I could from memory on my best friend’s parent’s back porch in Arizona.  In less than two months, the rough draft was finished.
Should have published then right?  Wrong!  I’m a perfectionist.  So I have a rather nasty history of picking things to pieces.  I’d like to think this means you end up with a better product but that’s just an attempt to rationalize my own neurosis.
Editing is Hell.  Just saying.  And as a self-publishing author, it’s worse.  I’ve little structure or support so I’m left to my own devices.  While I enjoy the creative and personal freedom of self-publication, I despise editing.  I’m certain Dante omitted that circle of Hell from his journey….
So there it is:  Computer meltdown, human meltdown, attack of vicious neurosis, and a pit-stop through the unforgiving monotony of editing.

How many books are in the Veil Series?
Veil is a five book set.  I’d like to think that is a firm number and success won’t change that number.  No amount of begging will either so don’t bother….I’m not one of those authors prone to dragging a story out to pad their pockets.  If anything, I’ll shorten it to four books if I feel that I can tie everything up nicely by the end of the fourth.  But for the time being, it’s five, and not a single book more.
Touch the Veil; Through the Veil; Rend the Veil; 4&5 remain untitled at this time.
How does it end?
I’m not going to tell you how many people have asked this question.  It’s enough to have earned this little bullet point in the Q&A so that should give you an idea.
You’ll find out in the last book but I’ve known from the moment I started writing Touch the Veil exactly how Prin’s story will end.  Whether it’s happy or otherwise, well, you’ll just have to stay tuned.
Is anything sacred?
Because of the overall outrage with GoT I feel I should put this out here as early as possible.
Nothing is sacred.
Love the characters but realize everyone is expendable at any moment, including the main character.  This is true for the Veil Series and anything else I write.  Good endings aren’t always happy.  Sometimes the good guy has to die.  Softening the blow?  Nope.  Reality doesn’t hold punches and neither will I, especially where my hardcore female leads are concerned.  The day of watery and weak women has passed.
Prin’s background is a little rough?
For some, the opening of Touch the Veil, with Prin’s torture scene might be too much to handle.  I won’t apologize for telling her story in the order it needs to be told.  Prin has a lot of residual damage from that attack and it has shaped everything about her.  Insight into her past, ugly as it is, helps you better understand her.  FYI:  If you thought her past was bad, wait ‘til you get a glimpse of what’s coming.  Get out now if you can’t handle that, cause it’s weak sauce by comparison.
It is only through adversity we discover not only who we truly are, but of what we are fully capable of, Prin is no different.  Everything I put her through is preparing her for what’s ahead.  How can characters grow if they remain untested and unchallenged?
When’s the next book coming out?
See here.  I’ll do my best to keep it updated.
Where do you get your mythical beasties?
Some I pull from loosely related folklore, though I’ve taken a lot of liberties playing with their overall concepts and natures.  No one source gave me anything substantially formative.
Cruellers, Deragons, Pussal larvae, and a few other critters are my own.  You’ll see more of them as the series progresses.  Maybe I’ll even draw up a few for you (though I’ll admit my art classes stopped with finger paints in kindergarten).
Vampires are overdone….
Vampires in this story are side note villains.  And none of the vampires in this series sparkle (no offense meant to Twilighters out there but for my sanity I have to point this out.  I don’t want anyone thinking they’ve been misled.)  Vampires in the Veil Series are brutal and carry little regard for human existence.  We don’t cuddle our Big Mac, they don’t cuddle us either.  We are food and fun, that’s it.  Plus, they give Prin something else to kill...wouldn't want the girl to get bored.
So what all can Prin do?
For now, she just reads memory, though her abilities will change throughout the course of the series based on different pre-plotted events.
Wee People?
Yep, faery, Fae, wee people, fairies….all names used in this book to describe the several of the Veil’s most influential secondary characters.
I’ve taken a lot of liberties with the lore, intentionally.  Spare me the riot act on sticking strictly to legend.  It’s been done.  I want to stretch the limits of our imaginations.  What’s the point of fantasy if we can’t get carried away?
Preternatural Catalogue?
I’ve every intention of putting one up, it’s just going to take time to pull everything together (keep in mind I’ve still got four novels of the Veil waiting to be finished).  Though I’d like to see a mini catalogue of the Veil universe up as soon as possible.  This would be a strictly for the fans addition.

Cover Art?
This will get updated with information regarding Chelsea Patricia's pages once we get everything squared away.  (She's awesome, just saying.)

I’m sure I’ll find more to put in here as the first book goes to press.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Never Ending Squee

So, Chelsea Patricia has signed on to do the cover art for Competitive Edge and The Veil Series.  We talked last night about the overall imagery for both covers as well as the themes for the rest of the Veil books.  Chelsea is a phenomenal photographer.  You should stop and check in on her work.  Her Facebook page is linked to her name.  She's based in the ATL area, so if you are looking for someone with a keen eye and attention to detail she's the woman for the job.  Her hubbin isn't too bad either.

As soon as I can I'll post more on it, but for now it's still in the middle planning stages.  Yes, having someone this awesome work on my covers....dream come true.  So excited.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Competitive Edge

Competitive Edge, my rom-com, has finally wrapped at 132 pgs.  Handing it off to editor tomorrow.  Hopefully be ready by the end of the month.  Still have to find cover art and fix that up, but I am looking forward to the headaches that come with it.  Nothing more satisfying than wrapping your novel.

Other projects are in the hands of editors:  Touch the Veil and Perception.  Still looking like early fall releases for those.  If the dates change, I'll keep the blog updated.

What's on deck?
  Honestly, I need to work on Through the Veil, but also, Silverside has been brought up a lot lately.  I'm torn.  Guess I'll sleep on it, tomorrow's another day and all that.  Perhaps I'll have a bright spot of inspiration.

Oh, I've sketched out the outline for a Dystopian early Industrial Revolution fiction.  Think Game of Thrones, only Industrial Revolution style.  I hate comparing anything I write to someone like Martin, he's pretty damned epic, but that's the closest comparison I can come up with at the moment.  Not committed too heavily to it, just setting it up, finding head-shots for the main players.  It's not a fly by the seat of my pants project, so it will likely be years before I have enough for a rough draft.  Still, it's a great concept, here's hoping it doesn't fizzle out.

So, many things to write....so little time.  Okay, back to work.


Saturday, May 24, 2014



The top pic is Perception and Touch the Veil side by side.  The middle image is Touch the Veil and the bottom is Perception.   Seeing the manuscripts like this makes everything seem so much closer to reality.

Thought I would share these.
Gotta get back to the edits so they'll be ready for epub soon.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Touch the Veil excerpt. Sharp's Pussal Larvae Infestation

Touch the Veil excerpt, as promised. This is not a teaser, this is content that never made it into the book due to length.  (Forgive grammar flubs as this never made it to the editors....)
Touch the Veil will be published as soon as edits and cover art is finished, so hopefully you'll enjoy this little bonus.
Enjoy!!





            I stood and stretched, my back ached from crawling the last fifteen acres of Joshua Sharp’s expansive peanut farm, marking out the vast network of subterranean Pussal larva tunnels.  If Sharp had waited any longer to contract my services, the remaining four hundred and eighty five acres would end up in the same disastrous state as the back nine of his fields.
            When I can safely feel my toes again I open the trunk of my Jeep and began pulling out milk jugs filled with neon green liquid.  No lie, it looks like antifreeze under black light.  It’s not antifreeze and as far as I know, it won’t damage Sharp’s crops any more than the Pussal larva already had.  This field wasn't just infested, it was ruined.  If not wiped out, the bastards would spread.  Sharp would lose everything.  And the price of peanuts in Antigone would ratchet up to astronomical heights.  I don’t necessarily care for nuts, excuse me, legumes, but Denise does.
            People usually limit the preternatural community based on what they read.  They’ve lumped them all into varied categories of sentient creatures; vampires, trolls, faeries, shifters, etc.  Truth is and will always be stranger than the greatest fictions.  Every biome has pests, even the preternatural ones.  And that’s exactly what Pussal larva where, pests, big, ugly, crop decimating nightmares that perpetuated world-wide famine.
            Have you ever snuggled with a grub?  Or perhaps turned one over while planting your garden, maybe burying a body?  Well Pussal larva and grubs have a lot in common.  They have a pale white C shaped body, three sets of legs, and a wormy appearance, though that has more to do with their lack of spine and supporting architecture than anything else.  Bulbous brown heads with no discernible eyes.  And both have a dangerous addiction to cellulose, as both were dedicated herbivores.  That’s where the similarities between the grub and Pussal larva end.
Pussal larvae were built like grubs on PCP with a little Miracle Grow thrown in for good measure.  Attached to those similar brown bulbous heads though, Pussal larvae have two sets of mandible jaw pinchers.  One that is meant to capture and hold roots while the other works to push food into its voracious mouth; well they also use them for defense when necessary.  Like ants and bees, Pussal larvae share a hive mind, and have delegated work groups.  They come on like a ravenous horde and don’t leave until they’ve eaten every piece of vegetation they can.  They’ve caused more than their fair share of crop blights and dust bowls.  Soldiers prowled the perimeters to keep away intruders, or would be predators while workers harvest and drag dinner back to the queen.
She’s who I’m here for.  And ten gallons of Wicca fortified insecticide should more than do the job.  Still, I don’t relish the idea of crawling through those tunnels.  They’ll all know I’m there the minute I breech.  And that’s when things will get ugly.  Fifteen acres worth of tunnels, I didn’t need to be a mathematician to know that beneath the soil wormed a venerable army of preternatural creepy crawlies.  It’s enough to make my skin crawl.  Pussal larvae, future B movie stars.  Though they’d have to come up with a better name, something that inspired fear in the masses, grubs just don’t have that violent ring to it.  Not like JAWS.
In an effort to prevent ruining a clean shirt, I slid on my coveralls and began the arduous task of dragging the pest-be-gone toward the center of the field.  This was where Sharp had first noticed the damage.  He’d even marked off the area with bright blue flags, very considerate.  It narrowed down the amount of tunnels I was going to have to crawl through.  I’d make sure to keep that in mind when I tallied his bill.
With each step closer to the circle of blue flags, the ground beneath my feet begins to give.  Behind me, all ten gallons of ultra-preternatural-insecticide were being dragged by a network of cleverly woven bungee cables and climbing carbineers.  If I fell through and landed in the center of their nest, any discount I’d planned on cutting Sharp would be negated.  He hadn’t said anything about the integrity of the ground and it was something he would have noticed.  There was absolutely no way he could drive a harvester over this area.  Details man, details.
I try to tread the brittle terrain the best I can, but the closer I get to those flags, that spindly feeling of dread unfolds in my stomach warning me I’m not going to make it to my destination.  No sooner than the thought forms the ground gave way.
Shiii-
-iiii
-ii
-iit.
When I land, it’s with a firm thud and a freshly blown curse.  Thankfully Mother Nature padded the fall with a convenient pile of rich soil.  Above, the stars were twinkling.  No, not twinkling, they were laughing.  My sudden entry was not cloaked in stealth or masked by loud machinery so they knew I was here.  Quickly my eyes dart from left to right as I use all the power in my legs to bring the gallon containers below with me, one at a time.  At least they hadn’t fallen on my head.  Oh what fun that could have been, my second concussion for the week!  Sadly, it wouldn’t be a new record.
The flashlight mounted to my forehead lit up the tunnel.  Four feet wide, two feet tall, yep, my only navigational option was the belly crawl.  Not the best defensible position if the natives got restless and decided to come at me all mandible wielding ninja style.  For several seconds I studied the walls, the top and bottom of the tunnel, sifting through the remains of roots for signs to follow.  They had front legs, three sets for fucks sake, they should have left something behind, a trail to follow straight to the heart of their compound so I could shove poison down their queen’s throat and use the rest on any and all eggs.  Ew, leaky egg sacks….for a moment that scene in Alien’s plays out on the back of my lids.  The one where the freaky-tentacle-sucker face latched onto the unsuspecting soldier, yep, totally what I needed to be thinking about before crawling down a long dark tunnel into a nest of nasty.
Shaking the imagery of Pussal larva attempting to attach its mandible jaws to my face, I had only one decision to make, sigh, left or right.  Keeping with the tradition of any good dungeon crawl, I went left.     
Left was a bad idea.
Not more than three feet committed and I could hear them snuffling and shuffling through the earthen walls, above and below.  They weren’t in front or behind me yet, but it wouldn’t be long.  Extinction event was put on pause as my flashlight illuminated the path ahead of me, one amber brown mandible peaking around a corner.  Bastards were going to ambush me.  Damn sneaky.
I try to wiggle backward.  It’s a mistake.  The space is too narrow for such an acrobatic feat, and I’m no contortionist.  Even if I was, ten gallons of metaphysical bug spray blocked the backward exodus.  Range of movement was a vital and in this earthen crawl space there wasn’t any.  As the mandibles I’d spotted inch around the corner I slid my hands down my hips.  Bullets were useless down here.  Pussal larvae weren’t much more than fluid filled sacs.  All a bullet would manage, if it hit, was to turn them into pissed off seeping sacs.  Nope, tonight it was all about blades.  Close quarters and closer contact, my favorite.  Some people like roller-coasters I like hand to hand combat.  And yes, I know how incredibly psychotic and suicidal that sounds.  If things went Sasquatch hairy, well, I had a grenade secured to my suit.  A very, very last resort since it wouldn’t kill the infestation, all it would do was collapse their network of tunnels and force them further out into Sharp’s other fields.
My daggers slide from their harness, and for a split second, I revel in their reassuring weight, all 2.2 lethal ounces of it.  I had four others attached to various parts of my body, but these were a personal favorite.  Four inch black skeletonized daggers, one side serrated while the other was sharpened surgeon scalpel smooth.  They slice, dice, and mutilate, making them perfect for the task at hand.
While earlier I cursed the gallons of insecticide for blocking any retreat, I’m grateful for them now, they’ll provide cover so I won’t have to divide my defenses on two positions.  My enemies will come to me.  It’s a very lemon and lemonade assessment.  Battlefield strategy 101.
As if they can hear the tactical wheels in my head spinning, one Pussal larva finally rounds the corner, impatience forcing it to make the first move.  Mandible gnashing, its albino skin so thin the flashlight illuminates its gooey innards.  I’m granted one second to appreciate the melatonin in human skin and all it does to conceal the things we have no business seeing.  Membrane lung sacks, milky tubular intestines, like rolls of puff pastry submerged in white muscadine jelly.  That I’m still in my belly crawl position works to my advantage because its spindly legs force it up so it slides against the earthen roof.  It swings its bulbous head my direction, the larger mandibles snapping to grab me, covering me with rancid spittle.  Instinct, years of training takes over.  One swift left, the serrated edge rips through the viscous membrane of the larva’s exposed abdomen while the scalpel edge of my right blade is shoved through the bulbous skull.  The once soothing dampened earth smell was replaced by a nausea inducing fragrance of rotted fruit.  I’ve pierced a bowel.  Bluish green slime slid down my hand just before I pull my daggers back.  The mandibles take one more wild swing at my face before emitting a low gurgling noise as it choked to death on its own bodily fluids.  A mournful shriek escapes the creature before its body crumples in a fat seeping heap of disgusting.
There was no time to enjoy victory or vomit.  Three more larvae have pushed their way around the corner.  And while smaller, they look absolutely pissed.  Yep, hive mind.  I’m not just an intruder.  I’ve been upgraded, my threat level moved up another level.  Goodie.  Last thing I wanted was a boring night.  It’s not like I had a hot date to cancel or anyone waiting at home.  That this was the highlight of my week was almost pathetic.  If I was a selfless hero I could claim that I was making the world a better place, that I was sacrificing my personal life for the greater good.  But I’m not a hero.  And even without creatures like the Pussal larvae, I’d still have no life.  At least I had purpose, direction.  That meant something didn’t it?
The great quandary over my life’s meaning ends when the encroaching larvae hiss at me, covering me in a new layer of that rancid herbicidal spittle.  It’s a stink slice festival as I turn insides into outsides and wear their entrails like soupy merit badges as I carve my way forward, dragging the insecticide with me as I inch deeper to find an army of rabid mandibles waiting around the corner.  It’s going to be a long night.
Time lost meaning as I crawled and carved a swath through the Pussal horde.  While time consuming and nasty, they weren’t exactly the smartest or toughest creatures I’ve ever dealt with.  Their hive mind had a down side, their shared consciousness meant they all thought the same, fought the same, and had the exact same weaknesses.  They were used to fighting small mammals, rabbits or raccoons that mistakenly crawled into their tunnels looking for an easy meal.  They’d likely never encountered predator like me, so they weren’t prepared for how to deal with me.  The confined space worked more to my advantage than theirs.  Their vast numbers meant nothing in the narrow confines.  They couldn’t overwhelm me, or sneak up from behind.  They were forced to face me head on-er-mandible on?  And I dug into battle, no longer nauseated by the smell, no longer gagged by the noises my blades made as I carved their gelatinous bodies.  I became a machine, muscle memory and adrenaline taking over as humanity fell away to hard-wired survival instinct.  The animal beneath the civilized veneer, it’s in all of us, but mankind likes to pretend we’re not the most vicious predator on the planet.  I’m not afraid of it.  I own it.  Some people have an eye for numbers, others build things.  Death is what I do.  And damn if I’m not good at it.
I slide through the gaping maw entrance to the main nest.  Bodies fall to the ground around me, landing in wet thwapping heaps.  I’m bruised and my ankle sang in mild agony, but it’s nothing a hot shower won’t cure.  Considering the mandible militia I’d just carved through, I actually came away better than I should have.  It’s not that I was that good.  Any redneck with a Bowie knife could have done the same thing, but it would have taken longer.  Without sparing the corpses a second glance, I pull the bungee cord tethering the gallons of unconventional bug killer down.  One by one, I tug them out of the tunnel and set them on the ground, unhooking them from my throbbing ankle.  Should have bracketed them to my hip, but you know what they say about hindsight right.
It doesn’t take a genius to know I’m in the nest and the horn for a retreat has been blown.  There’s no way I killed all the Pussal larvae.  My flashlight illuminated the room, moving with my head as it swivels from left to right and back again, like a typewriter.  Sure enough the brood queen is sitting there, blind-fat-and nine times bigger than any of the larvae I’d encountered in the tunnels.  Attached to her backside is an embryonic sac, with hundreds of soccer ball sized eggs.  Damn, that was enough larvae to eliminate all the vegetation in the tri-county area.  The brood queen lacked mandibles like the others.  She shouldn’t need them.  After all, she had an army to defend her.  Well, had, was the operative word there.  I might not have killed them all but I’d put a dent in her forces.
I look at her size and then give the ten gallons of poison a skeptical glance.  I sure hope I brought enough to do the job…..
She knew I was there but for all my menace she doesn't make a sound.  No gaseous hissing, no watery warbling.  Her big head just tracked my movements, following me as I shouldered the poison and dragged it closer.  While I assessed the best route to climb the gelatinous mountain, she studies me.  I’m going to have to pour at least four gallons down her throat.  The rest I’ll have to apply to the eggs she’s already laid.  When you destroy a large group of people, its mass murder, maybe even genocide if you've got a real hate on for who they are or what they stand for.  When you lay waste to an entire community of larvae, it’s called larvicide.  Somewhere, someone will read this and think me a monster.  That I’m destroying creatures I shouldn't.  PETA will add me to their ever lengthening list of chronic offenders.  I should feel guilty right?  I don’t.
First, these creatures don’t belong here.  They aren't of this world and I don’t have a way to send them back to where they belong.  Second, Pussal larvae do not get full.  They eat.  And eat.  And eat.  Until there is nothing left but barren soil.  So it wasn't just Sharp’s peanuts in danger here.  It was the entirety of Antigone’s flora.  Unchecked, they’d create another prodigious famine.  Thirdly, and most importantly, I’m a humanist.  And in the coin toss of them-or-us existence, I’ll choose us every-single-fucking-time.  Someone has to be willing to make these decisions and carry the consequences because no one else likes the weight of it.  Next time you eat peanuts, remember this.  Next time you give your kid the apple he’s been begging for, remember this.  And maybe you won’t thank me, if I've done my job right you won’t even know I've done anything at all.  You’re welcome.  Now point the judgment elsewhere while I finish my work.
The ascent was treacherous, finding and keeping your footing on a waterbed, and the brood queen’s body is very much like a waterbed.  Despite the pain I’m inflicting with my climb, the brood mother remained still, silent.  And this unnerves me.  As if she’s accepted the defeat.
When I make it to her head, I have to trap it with my arm and anchor it, though she doesn't fight, the last thing I need to do is lose my damned footing and land on my ass in this chamber.  With my arm around her golden brown head, her mouth is forced open.  Using my free hand I pop the first bottle of poison, and turn it up.
“It will be quick,” I promise, and painless I think but don’t say.  It will taste like honey suckle sugar.  Second gallon, she’s guzzling it down.
Third.
Fourth.
As the last of the sticky sweet poison drips out, the empty bottle falls to the cavern floor with the others, landing with a hollow thump.  She still isn’t fighting me, so I loosen my grip on her neck.  The poison has to work its way through her digestive track and right into the eggs in her belly, the ones in her birthing canal.   I can feel her insides quiver beneath me as the poison finally hits home.
I dismount her carefully, knowing when she falls I don’t want to be anywhere near her.  I back away, letting the poison finish what I started.  The brood queen’s once tall and foreboding body arches, tilting awkwardly before landing inches away from the tip of my boots.  I wipe my face with a grimy sleeve, my eyes stinging from some kind of dirt I must have gotten in them.  I can’t physically cry, haven’t been able to for years, so it’s debris I’m wiping away, not phantom tears.
Guilt doesn't live here.

Humans win; every-single-fucking-time.