Up the Tower
by J. P. Lantern
Disaster brings everybody together. A cloned corporate assassin; a boy genius and his new robot; a tech-modified gangster with nothing to lose; a beautiful, damaged woman and her unbalanced stalker—these folks couldn’t be more different, but somehow they must work together to save their own skin. Stranded in the epicenter of a monumental earthquake in the dystopian slum, Junktown, there is only one way to survive. These unlikely teammates must go. . . UP THE TOWER.
“This kid comes in, okay? Starts doing all this stuff with Wallop’s tech fists. Powering them up and such. You know, they can bend steel, they can punch a man so far a distance, all of that. At first, I think the kid’s pretty young, but then I see his eyes—they’re old enough. I seen his eyes, they’re about my age, those eyes. And it’s important, okay, how old he is. Because this kid? He looks a hell of a lot like me.”
“So what? Lots of kids look like you.”
“Yeah. So do Georgeson. So do Jonesboy. So do Figueroa.”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m saying…” he palmed the side of his head. “I’m saying, it ain’t no secret that you got yourself a certain type of person that you pick up. A type of boy. I sort of thought I knew why. Last night I found out for certain.”
Konnor was right. Ore was angry.
“The hell are you saying to me? Just say it.”
“You said you had a brother. His name was Samson. He was good with tech, you said. Well this kid? The one tailoring Wallop’s new fists? Samson. That’s what Wallop called him. ‘Samson, touch here.’ ‘Samson, look at that, is that right.’”
Ore didn’t say anything.
“He’s alive. Your brother. In The Tower. He’s maybe been alive this whole time.”
Silence, then. Even the eyebots outside seemed to get quiet.
That goddamn Wallop. Her job, her Haulers, and her eye. Now he had her brother, or near enough. Everything. Would he take everything from her?
Konnor stood up and headed to the door. The shack squeaked beneath him.
“If it was any other sort of job…if it was a job that maybe wouldn’t have gone against the Faces…”
“Shut up, Konnor. It’s all against the Faces. It’s under ‘em or it’s with ‘em. You know that.”
“All right. All right.” He opened the door. An argument had started down the street; someone lit a fire in a barrel on the balcony above her shack; an eyebot stopped, scanned the two, and then zipped away. “It’s a hell of a plan, though, Ore. A hell of a plan. And maybe I won’t get around to telling Wallop what’s what for a little while.”
J.P. Lantern lives in the Midwestern US, though his heart and probably some essential parts of his liver and pancreas and whatnot live metaphorically in Texas. He writes speculative science fiction short stories, novellas, and novels which he has deemed “rugged,” though he would also be fine with “roughhewn” because that is a terrific and wonderfully apt word.
Full of adventure and discovery, these stories examine complex people in situations fraught with conflict as they search for truth in increasingly violent and complicated worlds.
J.P. will be awarding a backlist ebook copy to a randomly drawn winner at every stop during the tour and a Grand Prize of a $25 Amazon GC will be awarded to one randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour
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