Thursday, June 6, 2024

Susie Drake and the Stolen Memories - Book Tour



Date Published: 01-06-2024

Publisher: 44th Morning LLC


Haunted by insurmountable grief, the nearly indestructible Susie Drake temporarily sacrifices all memories of her human friends. Unbeknownst to her, Ren Pith, a semi-immortal plagued by seizures and OCD, snatches her remembrances in pursuit of a time traveler, with the hope of rewriting the past.

Meanwhile, recruited by the grandchildren of her forgotten friends, Susie confronts a murder investigation intertwined with her purloined past and teams up with a private eye to unravel a perplexing link between her stolen recollections and a man who taunted her nearly a century prior. Racing against the possibility of total memory loss, Susie and the detective navigate time and space to follow a lead and venture into the future of an alternate Earth.

Susie’s quest intertwines self-discovery, justice, and a high-stakes race into a tangled web bridging past, present, and parallel worlds.

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Excerpt from " Susie Drake and the Stolen Memories"

Chapter 1: Misty Susie’s Detached Memories


August 17, 2050


Midnight in a cemetery on the outskirts of Tucson.



“ALL THESE DEAD PEOPLE,” SUSIE said to no one. “I didn’t kill any of them.” Flashlight in hand, she aimed the beam toward one of the graveyard’s older sections. “Scratch that. I see three headstones for guys I murdered. Hmm. I thought the caporegime had them buried in Phoenix. In fact … I know I have three dead guys there. Just not the same fellows.”

Soon, the illumination carried across a tombstone bearing a more recent date. “Sacha Fitzpatrick Ahern. The last of my Earthling friends. Gone at ninety-one years of age. You lived a long, full life. Why’d you have to leave me?”

Did she expect an answer? There wasn’t any other human around, living or deceased. Trilling insects, yes, and maybe a fox or coyote.

During the act of transferring the lantern from one hand to the other, the light weaved over something which made her perform a double-take. She held the torch firmly by the handle, scoffing as it poured across the anthropomorphic form.

“A full-sized granite angel. Wings, too. Nice.” Spotting a bronze bench located in front of the statue, she eased down upon it. “Me in the presence of a carved occupant of heaven. Who’d’ve thunk it? Let me introduce myself. Oh, yeah, I do talk to myself and inanimate objects a lot. More than I do people.” She quickly patted the figure’s forever-praying hands. “Are you asking something from God or me? Ha! Not a lot I can give you. How about a fast rundown of who I am? Good, because it’s all I got time for.

“I’m Susie Drake. I was born in 1902. Yep, I’m one hundred and forty-eight years old, and I don’t look much older than twenty-one. My parents had powers. I inherited some myself. Besides being almost immortal, I’m practically impervious to harm, can manipulate people’s will and memories by touching them, run short distances very fast, and am very strong. My pops was a nutcase. He killed my mom and almost done me in. In the aftermath, I had memory problems for a long time.

“What does someone with a face compared to a long-ago actresses do for a living? Model? Act? Not I! Assassin! It became my profession for half a decade or so before I met some people whose kind ways changed me. This led to my working for the government, doing greater good stuff.

“Later, I wander into a war between my friends and an army of alien wizards. It’s a battle unknown by ninety-nine percent of the world at the time—the 1970s. Not long after the fighting ended, I became a soldier of fortune. Many times, I used my strength and speed to save people, tampering with their recall, as I don’t want publicity. Make that … didn’t want publicity.”

Drake directed a shimmer at Ahern’s resting spot. “My late friend testified before Congress about the secret war after being the first to publish a book on the subject. The Joint Chiefs reluctantly backed her story, and then all hell broke loose. Uh, sorry, all heck broke loose. By then, all but a few of my friends’ children survived, except for some exceptional off-world pals and myself. The press hounded me, made me a superstar. Poor me, yeah.

“Tiring of the attention, I traveled incognito into most every country before receiving an invite from Sacha. She and her hubby have a guesthouse, and would I like to stay? Indeed, I did for seven years … until she passed six months after him.”

Rising, she paced the ground between her and the sculpture. “What do I do now? On her deathbed, Sacha recited the same ol’ lecture. Make new friends. Understanding others, she insisted, will make me understand myself better. Sweet old gal she was, but I already know me as best as I ever will. I. Don’t. Make. New. Friends. Very. Well. Too much trouble.” Susie halted, moving her face close to the stone object. “You’re stuck in mid-prayer. Pray me an answer. I need one.”

Drake scanned the night sky. A shooting star streaked diagonally before burning out above the angel’s head. Rather than admit grief overwhelmed her, Susie interpreted the meteor’s movement as a sign.

Nose to nose with the stone spirit, she attempted communication. “You got an answer to the prayer, didn’t cha? Tell me. What do I do now?”

Silence … until something clicks.

“E’tatanya! Of course. She’s an Exile. I’ve been in exile from living for years. I know another Exile whose name is Angel. It all fits!”



PEANUT BUTTER CRACKERS, BEEF JERKY, and vanilla cream soda, Susie had stocked her cooler with these snacks. Seated at a picnic table on the outskirts of Lambly Lake, twenty-two miles northwest of Kelowna, British Columbia, she finished a package of beef links. The sun’s reflection on the water added a halo around a green-haired woman who sparkled from the ether into reality.

Susie burped after sipping the soft drink. “’Bout damn time you showed. Why didn’t you meet me at Bunyan’s Flapjack Restaurant like we agreed? Y’know, I worked there for a short time back in the 1960s.”

Both hands rested firmly on the newcomer’s hips. “Everyone in town, including the tourists, knows you worked there. There’re photos of you plastered on the wall. Journalists and opportunists scour the forests searching for Lointain. They harass older Kelowna families rumored to be the Exiles’ allies and trample the protected forests looking for a world they can’t possibly see. Sacha’s confessional books altered all of our lives.”

In the early 1800s, the Exiles had begun inhabiting a magically manufactured floating world above the woodlands outside Kelowna, invisible to the eyes of Earthlings. These once prosperous inhabitants of a farther-away realm had provoked its ruling class by seeking eternal life (only partially achieved) and revealing their planet’s existence to Earth (accomplished centuries later via Sacha’s testimony). To keep the forced expatriates mum on where they had originated from and other cult secrets, a spiritual patriarch had placed a curse on the Lointainians. Every few years, demons and unimaginable creatures attacked the colony as a reminder to the citizenry to maintain secrecy. These skirmishes had produced injuries and property damage, but seldom any deaths. Both the atmosphere inside the fabricated globe and the elixir for near-immortality instilled a variety of powers in its residents, providing an edge over the bizarre invaders.

“You know there’s no longer a curse on Lointain. My long-dead friends ended it for you. Don’t worry about the news media and other thrill-seekers; they’ll never get past the false entrances and other wussified decoys.” She bared her teeth then eased up on the bitterness. “Sacha passed away. She won’t cause you any more harm.”

Relaxing her arms, E’tatanya cocked her head. “I’m sorry about Sacha. She was your final mortal connection with a bygone age. You do still have others who care about you. Forgive me my petty concern about annoying outsiders. I’m not accustomed yet to the changes in my people’s outsider status.”

Drake patted the wooden plank on which she sat, long legs stretched outside the table. “Come sit. I have two favors to ask.”

After tying her emerald hair into a wavy ponytail, E’tatanya positioned herself a half-foot from Susie. “I hope you request my transporting you into Lointain. There are many who long for your company again.”

“Listen to me.” Drake leaned an elbow on the table, adding a civilized, “Please.” After a pause, she continued, “Tell everyone … I said hello. It’ll have to do. First favor: I want you to send me to another world, dimension—whatever. Somewhere not very populated. A place in dire need of help. A job which’ll take a long time finishing. You know all the sorcery stuff. Should be easy, right?”

“I’m not a sorceress. I’m a healer, a shamaness. I don’t dabble in the dark arts. Contradictory as it may sound, I do what I do in the name of Jesus Christ.” Serious-eyed, she added, “I can do as you ask. I know the perfect place. Let me explain it.”

E’tatanya resituated her body on crossed legs. “Nearly three million persons currently dwell on the old planet. Over a hundred times, many died when a spaceberg collided with the world. I’m alluding to a living galaxy-iceberg, or Galacteeq. Normally, these creatures splat on a globe and birth one frozen tundra. Here, after decimating a majority of the population, it created two living polar shelves; a huge one in the north, a smaller one just above the equator. Alive, yes, and both create a thick, unbroken ring around the sphere. Baby Berg is moving ever so slightly north to join its buddy. Unfortunately, the human survivors are stuck in the dry plains between the monsters and will end up squashed no matter where they venture.”

“Teleport the people over the ice. There’s your solution. You Exiles exceed at it.”

“Only certain powers work on this world. Teleportation is not one of them.”

“How do you plan on taking me there if teleporting doesn’t work?”

“A three-seat spaceship, given to Lointain by a world in another dimension. I worked there as an exchange shamaness.”

“Okay. Can’t they use explosives and blow a hole through Baby Berg? How wide is it?”

“At its narrowest point, thirty-five miles. That section is also the most jagged with high- velocity winds. Even if munitions worked, I couldn’t do it. These shelves are living beings. They aren’t hostile. They seek survival like all of us. Another reason is just as important. To strike against them, separate or together, they would release a toxic gas for defensive purposes. The poison would wipe out thousands of natives. I can communicate with Baby Berg telepathically, gaining its trust—Galacteeqs are peaceful when not provoked. What I propose you do is lead parties over its flattest region, a length of forty-four miles.”

“If you can speak with it, tell it to stop moving or have one or both shelves back up. They’ll meet eventually.”

“I tried negotiating those points and failed. The smaller piece will slow its pace if it detects us transporting people.”

Susie snorted. “If the Baby burps, it’ll swallow us, right? Okay, seriously, how will we travel? We’ll need traction cleats, ice axes, special harnesses, yada, yada, yada. You got all that prepared?”

“The human leader will provide everything you need. You and those crossing with you will ride inside procophants. They’re like a combination kangaroo and elephant. Each can tote four people and adequate supplies inside their pouch. Resistant to cold, they have cleated feet, can detect ice cracks miles away, and leap onto safe formations. On the downside, only ten of these intelligent animals have given their cooperation for the transport. They only jump when necessary, so don’t force them. I mention this because they travel slowly. Forty people, including yourself, out of a few million at thirty-five miles one way. You said you wanted a job ‘long-time finishing.’ This is it.”

“Intelligent ice, intelligent procophants. I like bossing around dummies. Who are the dummies on planet … whatchacallit?”

“Planet Ouspenskrankyla. Breathable air. Nice people, not dummies. When you show up, Susie, they will be in awe of you. The Ouspenskrankylaians have only one race, one culture. Each person is amber-skinned and white-haired. One look at you, and they’ll beg to obey.”

Tapping her foot, Susie exhaled. “I don’t want fans. Guess I’ll have to whip ’em into shape. I’m definitely in, no matter how long it takes.” Hiding a grin, she said, “Ouspenskrankyla, huh? You chose a world with the word ‘kranky’ in it. Did you pick it on purpose as a reference to my personality or was it merely a Freudian slip?”

The near-immortal blinked, never certain how to deal with her friend’s always off-kilter disposition. “It’s ‘kranky’ with a ‘k’. You needn’t search for hidden implications that don’t exist. I’ll write it off as part of your grief. So, what’s the second favor you ask?”

Hesitation mounted a skirmish across Susie’s face before she found the words. “I want certain memories severed. Not eliminated, just stored away. I know you can do it. You’ve told me so yourself. If I could do it correctly with the memory adjustment part of my suggestive power, I would. But it’s too tricky using it on myself.”

E’tatanya turned her head in the lake’s direction, biting her lip, wishing she hadn’t been open with Drake regarding her skills. Then, facing her companion, she said, “I know what you’re asking pertains to the deaths of your friends. The simpler, easier approach would be making new ones. Like it or not, people feel drawn to you.”

“New friends who’ll live and die while I won’t age an iota. I know I gotta face those facts and start over. First, I need a break from the grief.” The former assassin stood, kicking at the ground. “It won’t be forever. Remove remembrances of specific people while I’m away. You gotta admit, it’s not everybody who’s forced to live beyond the lives of their friends and their friends’ children.”

“Withdrawing recollections can alter your personality. You were once a very violent person. I don’t want you reverting back to her.”

“I’ll keep the proper reminders so that it won’t happen. I’ve made a list of who stays, which is everyone I’ve murdered, and who goes, namely all my friends.” From a satchel on her motorbike, she removed a pad of paper, handing it to the Exile. “I’ve thought this over for months now. I’m not changing my mind.”

The healer read the names to herself. She knew Susie well enough to know arguing represented a waste of breath. “I’m very much indebted for your agreeing to help the Ouspenskrankylaians. I had no other option regarding their relocation. Assisting them across the berg and remaining long enough for their resettlement will pay for the second favor. I’ll check in on you now and then. When you’re ready again for Earth, I insist on restoring your memories.”

“No problem. Where will you store them?”

“There exists a universe which, when first formed, projected massive-sized cliffs alongside a steep, congruous galaxy. Quite unique. The planets within are very small, all uninhabited, each orbiting its miniature sun with a singular bluff. I’ve claimed one for a storage facility and a place to practice any magic I shouldn’t attempt on Lointain. I’ll keep your remembrances there, inside one of the enchanted pouches I always carry with me.”

“All you had to say was somewhere far away. When will you remove the memories and when do we leave for Ouspenskrankyla?”

“Now and immediately after. Have a seat. It won’t take long. Though I must warn you about something.”


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