WHILE SUPPLIES LAST
BUY TWO GET ONE FREE
OPERATORS STANDING BY
I’VE FALLEN AND I CAN’T GET UP
Were they connected? Were they warnings of some kind? Why did the alien visitors choose kitsch advertising phrases as a means of communication? After some reflection, Tegende decided that it actually made sense. Of all the transmissions mankind had beamed out into the universe, intentionally and unintentionally, advertising catchphrases were likely the most prominent. It would be perfectly reasonable to assume that E.T. would deem advertising as the most significant component of human communication. How the alien visitors interpreted it was another matter . . .
“There were so many beautiful people there, so many that no ugly person with high aesthetic standards was ever lonely, unless they were utterly insufferable—which was curable with wine.”
He looked around, scanning the overgrown fields and lonely, motionless, rusting agricultural machines, standing like grazing cattle, each idled by the radio flash over Eram the year before. The spaceship continued to rise…
One particular evening, a peculiar star became visible to those on earth who bothered to take notice. Increasing in brightness with each passing night, its details were soon discernible in the daylight hours. It grew larger and larger as it approached, becoming the dominant feature in the heavens as it finally settled into low earth orbit.
But because the giant thing in the sky was at first benign, and no one was instructed by the authorities to be concerned by its presence, humans carried on with their lives, becoming less and less aware of it and increasingly re-immersed in their many shiny, noisy, useful, interesting, helpful, and distracting things.
Then, out of the blue, the giant thing in the sky attempted to communicate with humanity by broadcasting messages in the form of kitsch advertising slogans. Unfortunately for mankind, the meaning of those cryptic transmissions could not be divined before world war three began.
The War to End All Wars to End War swept across the planet, and the cities and machines and screens all fell silent. Even the giant thing in the sky went dark. The survivors were scattered, and over time, their isolation, and the passing of the prewar generations, had a profound impact. The dwindling enclaves of humans were left to patch the holes in their culture and history with the crumbs left behind by the departed age of things.
Then the giant thing in the sky began to wake up…
The story is actually 3 short novellas that take place before, during, and after the War to End All Wars to End War. Although there is a smattering of commentary on colonialism, nationalism, crass consumerism, and bureaucracy, and spaceships and Nazis are prevalent throughout, the three novellas are actually love stories exploring the destructive impact of insecurity, pride, the insatiable pursuit of things, and the relentless search for a higher purpose.
The second and third novellas take place in a fictional country called Trans Amhara Oromo. It is a dysfunctional nation-state, the borders of which were clumsily crafted and imposed upon the native peoples there by colonial Belgium.
I hope you will check it out. I will send a review copy to anyone who asks for one…pdf OR paperback. Just send me a note.
Also, please check out Miguel Llanso’s excellent movie upon which this book is loosely based.
We’ve edited the edits and sent them back to the editor. We’re in final draft polishing mode, book cover design, and devising a marketing strategy.
“It isn’t necessary to imagine the world ending in fire or ice. There are two other possibilities: one is paperwork, and the other is nostalgia.” –Frank Zappa
…methinks a fitting epigraph for Crumbs.
From Chapter 19:
Tegende awoke to the gurgling of a vulture hopping on the dashboard of the abandoned ice cream wagon. He shooed at it and it fluttered off through the frame where the windshield once was. He noticed the present sat on the opposite corner of the dashboard, still wrapped in its glittering bow. Then he noticed that Birdy wasn’t there. He looked at his hands and they had returned to a more youthful state. It must have all been a dream, he thought. He gathered his things and stumbled out of the truck onto the sandy, barren dirt. He heard his canteen slosh. He was sure it was empty, but now he found it nearly full. He thought maybe he was finally losing it. Feeling a renewed vigor from the rest and the fluids, he started north. By late that afternoon he spotted the greenery of an oasis with red iron scaffolding rising up out of it. He had finally returned to the Eagle’s Nest.
A fire filled his veins which propelled his legs over the hot sand towards his destination. He reached into his belt and clutched the hilt of his machete and unsheathed it. The sweat rolled down his skin, dropping into the sand as he marched. His grip upon the hilt tightened and his muscles grew taut.
Sand filled his boots and penetrated his socks, grinding in between his toes with each step. The vultures circled overhead in a wide ring, and the ship, so much farther above, hung for a moment, exactly within the halo of the carrion fowl. The rhythm of his footfalls and breaths quickened as he made a straight line towards the foliage—disappearing and reappearing behind the waves of dusty dunes.
A hot wind whipped the sand up which lashed at his exposed skin. The green oasis rippled and danced and shimmered in the undulations of hot air rising off the surface. He tasted the moisture between the dry gusts.
His teeth ground. His blisters opened. The whites of his eyes filled with threads of pulsing blood. His veins thickened and throbbed. His hair raised. His fear dissipated.
Tegende stepped off the sand and onto stones and over them and into the lush greenery of the oasis. The palms before him bent and the branches bowed as if clearing the way. The insects—the chiggering, chattering, clicking, stinging, buzzing—all fell silent. As he advanced, steam vented in plumes from the stones behind him. The colorful birds in their perches turned their heads to watch him with one eye—their beaks pointing the way forward…into the Eagle’s Nest…to Birdy and Selam. He finally reached the iron gate, guarded by a single sentry wearing a spiked helmet and reflective motorcycle goggles.
“Open the gate!” Tegende commanded.
The guard sized him up, sighed, then replied, “Do you have an appointment?”
“I said open the gate or I will hack you to pieces and feed your entrails to the vultures.” Tegende raised his rusty machete, his bloody eyes so filled with intensity that they nearly popped out of his skull.
The guard lifted his goggles up off his eyes to take a closer look at this skinny, angry man.
“Do as I say or prepare to die!” Tegende ordered.
The next instant, Tegende heard the cocking of guns. He turned to find four Nazis aiming their Lugers at him. Still holding his blade aloft, he turned back to the guard and found him scanning through the yellow pages on a clipboard.
“Don’t you read Kung Fu?” asked the guard as he scanned. “It is unwise to bring a scimitar to a gunfight?”
Having been commissioned to novelize the independent, post-apocalyptic sci fi film “Crumbs”, written and directed by Miguel Llanso, I decided that the novel needed a map in order to explain all the geographical places visited in the odyssey.
The setting is mostly in the Federal Democratic Republic of Trans Amhara Oromo which is a small, fictional country located in east Africa on the Gulf of Amar. Formerly a European colony, the Amhara Oromans fought for and won their independence from Belgium in 1983.
Here’s a draft version of it that I’ve been working on…
Hat tip to Joseph Conrad, J.R.R. Tolkein, and an online list of Ethiopian baby names.
The novel is well in to the second draft.