Huge breath here. The NADIA Project is now complete. Okay, aside from beta reads and edits, anyway. Critical Mass is in the capable if demanding hands of mt line editor. Lies and Paine, my free novella, previews coming!) is out to mt betas right now, getting chewed thoroughly before I unleash it on my unsuspecting publisher.
But for all intents and purposes, it's done. Nadia, Jon, Bunny, Jenna, and all the special friends I've tortured and immiserated since 2007, are now tucked safely away in their fates.
And I'm having a case of Empty Nest Syndrome like you wouldn't believe. Oh, I do have projects lined up, fear not. As a matter of fact, I'm positing a preview of my new current work this week (We'll get to that in a bit). But I still have an empty place where the guys used to gather around Irving's table and have conversations about taking down The Pinnacle.
Let me introduce you to Simon Crocker:
Some people need killing. I hear that's a valid legal defense in some states. And I say, the best defense is a good offense.
Now, before you label me a cold-blooded murderer, hear me out: Let's say you have a neighbor down the street, a real piece of work. He threatens everybody's kids, breaks into your houses and makes himself an all-around jerk. Then the kids start disappearing. The police come out, but can't find any clues. No one seems willing to do anything about it. But you know this guy is taking the kids from the neighborhood. Comes a time, you need to weigh the cost of taking the bull by the horns and saving your kids against the possible consequences to yourself. You have to stop that bastard before another child loses their life to him.
I can already hear the cries of objection, the calls for justice under the law and a court conviction. And I'll tell you, the court isn't always the best arena for handling these animals. Give a guy a slick enough lawyer, and he'll walk. The best a victim's family can hope for is containment in some psychiatric facility where that same family's tax dollars pay for three hots, a pot and a cot for the rest of this man's long, easy life. If he doesn't escape. If he doesn't fool his doctors into thinking he's healed and wangle himself an early-out. If he doesn't sit tight, serve his time, get a release and start all over again in another neighborhood. This is justice?
Now, let me throw another wrinkle at you: What if you could look back through history and see these unfixable animals? Pinpoint each one? What if you could go back and pop Ted Bundy before he made his first kill? Albert Fish? Charles Manson? What if you could go back and take care of it?
I can. Me, Simon Crocker. I didn't invent the time machine; that was Doc Friezen's baby. I just use it to put sick animals out of the world's misery.
Animals like Porter Killian III.
You might not have heard of Porter Killian III. If you have, you’re in the time stream where I didn’t rail him. I remember him because I was outside the stream when I did him.
He was born to an affluent East-Coast family who had more money than brains. If they'd used either of the two brain cells that managed to filter down through that branchless family tree, they would have drowned him at birth and had done with it. But they raised him, taught him the finer points of a life of privilege, and bailed him out every time he put his foot in it. So the concept of consequences never occurred to him.
Not even when girls started to disappear from his ivy-league school.
It was 1945. He was in his junior year at Harvard when young Amanda Hibbert was found strangled and raped in the bushes outside her dorm. She was his first kill, but not his first rape. You've heard Amanda’s name, no matter what stream you’re in.
Seventeen girls disappeared by the time he finished his prerequisites for Harvard Law School. He was questioned three times, and arrested once. Each time, Porter Killian II (not Junior) stepped up with money and lawyers to rescue his son. Those who couldn't be bribed, were attacked in character and any other way to shame them into submission. No one tangled with the Killians and survived with their career, or their life, intact.
Porter Killian III graduated, ran for U.S. Senate, and served six terms before he retired. During his career, four Capitol staffers joined poor Amanda. He died a rich, twisted, old man.
But that's not the story you heard. Because I changed it.
I caught up with him the summer he graduated high school, right after he'd raped Cindy Lawton in the woods behind the football field. He looked right at me, and I saw him for the beast he was. Then I pulverized his skull with a burst from a rail pistol at close range.
Now, let's come back to Amanda Hibbert, who did not die: She funded six free clinics in the New York area, and five more in India. In addition, it was under her leadership that Hanson Pharmaceuticals perfected three new drugs that revolutionized treatment for epilepsy.
So why didn't I stop Porter Killian III from raping Cindy Lawton? Because if I did, she never would have opened the Lawton Centers, where rape victims of both genders and all ages receive comfort, counseling, and healing.
You have to time these things just right.