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Quantum Cannibals
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-432-2
Genre: Science Fiction/Dark Fantasy
eBook Length: 469 Pages
Published: November 2018

From inside the flap

In the Stone Age Arctic, Osnat, a brilliant, pregnant, quantum scientist knows where she is but she doesn’t know when. A mysterious technology has exiled her and her people across time to a frigid wasteland above the northern radiation belts. She and her husband Simon search for food, warmth, for any kind of help. They find instead a band of indigenous Tunniq who attack, rather than assist. Though she craves vengeance, Osnat realizes that the murderous savages are the help her people need to survive. The conflict between need and ideals tears at her as she learns their ways. Must Osnat become a brutal savage in order to save her people?

Quantum Cannibals weaves a series of intersecting stories that span time, from Bronze Age Mesopotamia to a Post-Modern city-state. It’s the epic story of three incarnations of two people- alternately son and mother, husband and wife, father and daughter, savage and scholar, who simply want to return to the home they were brutally evicted from. Quantum Cannibals brings together authentic cultures and history from the far reaches of the world, from the far reaches of time.

Quantum Cannibals (Excerpt)

The Edge of the World 1

Falun didn't want his wife to kill him; it would be too embarrassing.

She was beyond furious, which by itself wasn't unusual. "If you don't get a name for our son," Puah said, "I'll call him Falun, and he'll get the life that has that name now."

"You don't scare me, you miserable woman."

Her sons from her previous husband were strong enough to back up her threat. Falun was terrified.

He had figured her anger would eventually pass, and then they would get back to their normal lives. But while the moon waxed and waned, and the snow covering the bleak tundra turned to mush, Puah's ire and Falun's terror continued to grow. He had hoped that her voice would eventually wear out from all her screaming, or that one of the neighbors would kill her to quiet her down. But she drank enough walrus fat to keep her throat working, and the neighbors were intimidated by her threats, even though they were aimed at her husband.

The worst of it was that she was right. Two sons were already dead, and that was too many. He had to find a life; he had to find a name for their youngest.

He had tried. He had organized raiding parties, traveled to the closest villages, but everybody there was kin. You couldn't take the name of someone who had taken a name from your brother. Falun's alternative to being killed was simple: he had to travel far, and attack someone who wasn't related. The small clusters of cramped animal-hide and snow houses that made up encampments were widely scattered, some being several days' travel by dog sled from their closest neighbors. Some were a lot further than that. But everyone knew what made a good place to live, so travelers and raiders knew where to find each other.

To journey to an encampment far enough that most of the people wouldn't be family meant getting a lot of supplies for the trip. It meant lavish gifts for the hunters traveling with him. Falun had spent weeks in preparation.

Better that then face Puah and her sons. One of them, Miriaq, was going along on the raiding party, which meant that Falun couldn't abandon his quest and quietly live somewhere else. Falun's younger brother was also going, as well as Aarluk, a huge woman. Aarluk was distantly related, having the same curly brown hair and blue eyes as Falun. Her parents had originally thought she was male and named her accordingly, but when she became a shaman and Traveled between Spheres, she changed into a woman. It was a sign of fearsome power. Ijiq, Aarluk's husband, spent a lot of time at other encampments, probably because his wife was too ugly and he wanted better-looking women. Now he would be able to enjoy himself for a while at home.

The late summer days were unusually warm. The sky never darkened, and in many places the snow cover had melted completely. They were travelling overland across the rocky scree, the barren plains dotted with occasional outcrops of moss and lichen. Here and there small fields of grasses flourished, punctuated by dwarf shrubs. Rivulets meandered across the landscape, few deep enough to reach your knees if you stepped in them. The salmon ran in schools of ten to twenty, and if your timing was right, you just had to reach into the icy water to pull out food for a week.

The caribou didn't run in herds in these parts; the vegetation wasn't thick enough to support them. Occasional elk could be spotted, but it took a fast runner and strong arm to spear any of them. At least here below the escarpment, the land was flat enough that any marauding bears could be spotted from afar.

They traveled northeast, perpendicular to the Edge of the World, past which there was no existence. Falun had once dared his sister to stick her arm through the green mist of the Edge. When she pulled it back with a scream, the skin had been burned right off, as if she had held it over a fire pit. Within a day her flesh had rotted and fallen off, and by the following day she was dead. Falun had a good laugh at her foolishness.

It was after the first sleep, when they were eating some salmon they had just caught, that the dogs became nervous. The raiders all went for their weapons.

Miriaq spoke first. "It's not a bear."

Falun glanced at the flat horizon and grinned. "Success already! Hide!"

"We've been spotted."

Strangely, whoever it was in the distance was running directly towards the raiding party, arms waving.

The raiders saw that there were two of them approaching, a man and a woman wearing strange garments. They looked thin and emaciated, which would make them less useful. Still, the man would get Puah off his back and provide a name for his child. The woman… The raiders grinned at one another.

The two strangers were also smiling, despite their apparent hunger, despite the hunting party they were coming right at.

The man stuck out his hand. His yellow hair suited his pale skin. He was tall, thin, and weak looking. "We are so grateful to see you. We haven't eaten in days. You must help-"

Falun swiftly swung the butt of his spear and brought it across the man's face. Blood started pouring from his nose and mouth. The girl screamed. Another swing of the spear went across the man's knees, and as he buckled Falun struck him hard on the back, dropping him to the ground.

Aarluk grabbed the girl and ripped off her clothes, sticking some in her mouth as she dragged her off to the side. The rest of the raiders averted their eyes, disgusted by the idea of a woman being with a woman. They set into the thin man lying at their feet, kicking him in the head, in the gut, between the legs. Miriaq grabbed his arm and twisted till the bone popped loose from the shoulder. The man's eyes were still open, but he was too shocked, and had no strength to scream. Falun bent down, and grabbing his hair, lifted the man's face towards his.

"What's your name?"

The man tried to speak, but was having a hard time getting words to his lips. Falun punched his broken nose. "What's your name?"

"Simon," came the whispered answer.

Falun kicked Simon's forehead, as the raiders broke out in wide grins, slapping him on the back, congratulating him.

"That was too easy. My wife will be disappointed to hear that I had such a simple time of it. But at least people will stop complaining about all the noise she makes yelling at me."

Everyone laughed.

Aarluk walked over and eyed Simon, passed out on the ground. "Stop giggling like little girls. There's a naked woman waiting, while you make stupid jokes. I'm going to Travel between Spheres to give Simon strength. We can't have him die on his own after all our effort."

Aarluk pulled a small drum and some powdered lichen from her pack. She mixed a few small rocks with the powder, and threw it all at Simon's motionless body. Sitting on the ground, she drummed a simple beat while the others busied themselves with the woman.

Falun finally interrupted Aarluk's trance. "He's still sleeping. Did you do all your Traveling in the girl, so that now you have no strength left to give him?"

Aarluk ignored the insult. "I can't get him to enter the pathways between Spheres."

"Maybe you should try it the way you and your husband enter each other."

Aarluk laughed. "We're going to have to carry him. Can the girl still walk?"

"If we beat her enough, I'm sure she'll find the strength."

Haran, Falun's brother, approached: "Simon said they haven't eaten in days. Let's feed them before we start back."

Falun picked up the fish he had been eating when the dogs first alerted them. He took a mouthful, chewed it carefully, and then leaning over Simon, spat into his mouth. Haran poured in a few drops of water. Aarluk put some fish on her finger and held it over the girl's mouth, forcing her to put her lips around the finger to get food. Simon coughed, choking briefly on the mush in his mouth, and then lapsed back to silence as he swallowed it.

They repeated the procedure over and over, until both of the strangers had consumed enough to give them some strength without tying their empty stomachs in knots.

Haran lightly brushed his fingers over the girl's cheek. "What are you going to do with her, Falun? I don't think Puah wants a daughter."

"Maybe we can bring her to Tuli. He's got a son who's almost ready to get a name."

"What are you talking about? She's a girl! Couldn't you tell?" Haran snickered.

"I know, I know." Falun ran his fingers along her exposed, trembling thigh. "But it's getting harder and harder to find a name for a son. Maybe this girl can be a man."

"Why are you insulting me?" Aarluk hissed. He stood swiftly, and grabbed Falun by the front of his parka. "Only the strongest Sphere-Travelers are able to change from man to woman, or woman to man. Are you saying she's as strong as me?" Aarluk swept her arm over the shivering body. "Do you think she's so powerful?"

Aarluk let go of Falun and bent over the girl. "Can we take your name?"

She didn't respond.

Aarluk grabbed her face. "Answer me: where's your strength? Are you a Sphere Traveler?"

A groan came from her throat.

Aarluk released her, and glared at Falun.

He lowered his gaze. "You're right, Aarluk. She's not very strong." Falun used his boot to turn her over, and grinned. "If we can't use her name, we'll use her other parts. I'll keep-"

"No. I claim her." Aarluk placed his boot on the girl's back. "I have no children. It's easy to name a daughter, if she doesn't already have one."

Falun opened his mouth to speak, looked at Aarluk, and then stopped.

The big Sphere Traveler bent over the trembling, terrified girl. "What's your name?" she asked.

The girl just whimpered.

"I'll name her when we get home if she's forgotten who she is."

Falun pulled out a horn trumpet, and triumphantly blew nine staccato notes. The shrill noise was the sound of life weeping.